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Assessing the side effects of the ‘exercise pill’: the paradox of physical activity health promotion.

Pullen, E. and Malcolm, D., 2018. Assessing the side effects of the ‘exercise pill’: the paradox of physical activity health promotion. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health, 10 (4), 493-504.

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PDF (This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health on 16 October 2017, available online:
Assessing the Side-Effects of the ‘Exercise Pill’.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.


DOI: 10.1080/2159676X.2017.1388833


The Exercise is Medicine movement, centralised in Physical Activity Health Promotion (PAHP) policy, is illustrative of neoliberal health governance that acts to sustain the population’s regular participation in physical activity (PA) through the logics of self-care, productivity, personal responsibility and choice. One way this is propagated is through the promotion of exercise as the ‘best buy’ (AMRC 2015) in modern medicine and a wonder ‘pill’ to good health (Sallis 2009a). However, the increasing reliance of PAHP policy on the Exercise is Medicine narrative to construct the healthy citizen typically conflates the categories of sport, exercise and PA, and fails to recognise the different social relations and risks each entails. Consequently, the neoliberal logics central to this narrative are more likely to create actors inclined towards competitive sport and, therefore, PAHP places populations at risk of physical injury that entail both social and economic costs. Mobilising data from semi-structured interviews, the social and economic ‘costs’ of physical injury are documented to develop a critical evaluation of the paradoxical implications of these ‘costs’ for contemporary public health promotion such as the Exercise is Medicine movement.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Neoliberalism; physical activity health promotion policy; sport; injury
Group:Bournemouth University Business School
ID Code:30130
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:15 Dec 2017 13:33
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:08


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