Level 3 Exercise Referral

Make a difference to the lives of clients living with chronic illnesses and conditions with the industry-leading expert-delivered GP referral course

exercise referral specialist holding blood pressure monitor
exercise referral specialist holding blood pressure monitor

Level 3 GP Exercise Referral Diploma

Discover a course designed to help fitness professionals work with clients and manage chronic illnesses and conditions. This is an essential qualification for progressing to Level 4 and beyond.

  • Course Type:

    Online or attended

  • Time to Qualify:

    8-10 weeks

  • Entry Requirements:

    Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology and Level 3 Nutrition

YMCA Awards Logo WhiteCIMSPA Logo White

Book your place for only £100 deposit

Choose Your Study Method

Starting from £403.75


Payment Options

  • Pay in full

    Total payable £403.75 5% discount £21.25
  • 6 month payment plan

    1 x £55 and 5 x £54 Minimum deposit £100 Total payable £425
  • Military approved

    Enhanced Learning Credits Resettlement Contact our Careers Team for more information

Starting from £327.75


Payment Options

  • Pay in full

    Total payable £327.75 5% discount £17.25
  • 6 month payment plan

    1 x £45 and 5 x £40 Minimum deposit £100 Total payable £345
  • Military approved

    Enhanced Learning Credits Resettlement Contact our Careers Team for more information

Level 3 Exercise Referral Diploma

This exercise referral course is designed to help fitness professionals implement effective changes and management strategies for clients with chronic illnesses and conditions. This GP referral course is an essential qualification for progressing to Level 4.

Course Overview

Our level 3 exercise referral courses provide a suitable career pathway for any health and fitness professional (gym instructors, personal trainers, studio instructors) to upskill, developing specialist knowledge, skills and confidence to support people living with a range of long-term (chronic) medical conditions.

This diploma in exercise referral qualification is the industry standard for anyone wanting to work in exercise referral, although there is nothing standard about our programme! Our qualification is the only GP referral course in the country in which the knowledge elements are delivered by a highly qualified and respected General Practitioner with years of experience in this field.

Exercise referral, which may also be referred to as GP referral, allows you as a health and fitness professional to work for and alongside other healthcare providers (e.g. NHS, local authorities, charities) to support people in need to help with their exercise, physical activity and healthy eating goals.

Our exercise referral courses are delivered in two ways; attended and online. The attended course uses a blended learning format which combines supported home study with weekend practical attendance, whereas the online course can be completed remotely without any need to attend.

  • Entry Requirements

    As a minimum, you’ll need to have previously completed Level 3 Anatomy and Physiology and Level 3 Nutrition. If you’re a qualified personal trainer or you’ve studied these units as a part of another course, within the past 5 years, then you’re all set. If you're missing either prerequisite element, our friendly careers team is on hand to assist you with your options.

  • Accreditations

    Fully accredited by YMCA Awards, our GP referral course is also recognised by CIMSPA. Not only is it an effective way to enhance a CV, but if you have your sights set on becoming a Level 4 exercise specialist then this Level 3 qualification is a prerequisite.

  • Learning Materials

    To really engage you as a learner and bring this course to life, we’ve enlisted one of the country’s foremost GPs to present an innovative series of video lectures. Upon enrolment, you'll have access to our online student system which contains all of your learning materials, so you can start studying today. Alongside this, we'll provide you with a course study guide to structure your learning into a manageable format. You'll also have access to our superior training manuals in print and digital versions so you can be sure you have everything you need in your course and exercise referral career.

  • CIMSPA CPD Points

    This qualification is mapped to CIMSPAs professional standards and is worth 5 CIMSPA CPD Points.

Choose how you want to learn

This course can be attended at one of our venues, or you can do the online exercise referral course. For more information about these delivery methods, use the buttons below.

How We Support You

On top of extensive learning materials, your studying will be backed up by unlimited tutor support. Your friendly personal support tutor will be available to help you whenever you need, however you need it, including:

  • Video Calls

  • Phone Calls

  • Emails

  • Webinars

Support tutor at whiteboard

What You'll Learn

Becoming a leading exercise referral specialist takes a certain level of commitment and the right combination of specialised knowledge and skills. To give you an idea of the knowledge and skills you'll develop in this course, here is a list of some of the topics covered. You can also watch the video to see the standard of our learning materials that you can expect.

  • Professional Practice for Exercise Referral

    - Health, safety and welfare
    - Legal responsibilities in exercise referral
    - Setting up and monitoring referral schemes
    - Understanding professional competencies
    - Fundamental principles of referral schemes
    - Role of exercise and physical activity in exercise referral

  • Understanding Medical Conditions for Exercise Referral

    - Arthritis & Osteoporosis
    - Joint replacement surgery
    - Simple mechanical back pain
    - Hypertension and hypercholesterolaemia
    - Obesity and diabetes
    - Mental health conditions

  • Planning and Delivering Exercise Referral Programmes for Patients

    - Planning exercise for referred clients
    - Session structure
    - Resistance training for referred clients
    - Cardiovascular training for referred clients
    - Teaching and monitoring exercises
    - The stages of teaching

  • Communicating with and Supporting Referred Clients

    - Creating a positive impression
    - Communication and rapport with clients
    - Supporting lasting changes
    - Benefits of communication
    - Probing, clarifying and leading
    - Overcoming barriers to physical activity

  • Assessing Referred Clients

    - Purposes of pre-exercise assessment
    - Resting heart rates and blood pressure
    - Body mass index
    - Waist-hip ratios
    - Pre-assessment guidelines
    - Validity and reliability

Dr Dane - Exercise Referral

*Images and videos are for illustration purposes and may not depict specific course materials.

Where Will Your Exercise Referral Career Lead You?

We supply a range of exercise referral courses and qualifications to a variety of commercial clients, some of which are featured below. Our team are therefore well placed to ensure that your journey in exercise referral gets off on the right foot.

Nuffield health logo NHS logo Derbyshire council

How You'll be Assessed

The course is comprised of various components that will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your GP referral knowledge in a range of practical and theoretical ways.

HFE student completing assessment sheet


  • Medical conditions and medications
  • Online and open book
  • Multiple choice


  • Case Study
  • Worksheets
  • Online


  • Consultation
  • Instructing exercise
  • Completed on course or video recorded

Online Exercise Referral Course

The online GP exercise referral course is a self-paced level 3 qualification that is delivered through a combination of home study, online learning and live support from a team of friendly learning support tutors.

The content is presented using a combination of training manuals and online lessons to ensure that you develop a deep and rich understanding of 13 different medical conditions and how exercise can help to better manage them. The online lessons are presented by a medical doctor with over 10 years’ experience of working in GP and exercise referral schemes. This is the only exercise referral qualification delivered by a GP in the fitness industry.

With our online exercise referral course, you’ll work through the home study and online learning remotely in your own time, and record your practical assessment in an appropriate environment (gym, studio, outdoors) and submit this to us for assessment. Everything that you need to complete this qualification is included and provided as standard, including the support.

Dr Dane online lesson
Learning ContentAssessmentQualification

The online version of this qualification is exactly the same as our face-to-face programme. However, instead of attending one of our regional training venues, you’ll simply work through the online learning content remotely at your own pace.

We find the online course allows students to take a more bite-sized approach to their learning and to spread their study and assessment over a longer period. With the online programme, you get 6 months to complete your course so you can progress as fast or slow as you like.

When you need a little expert guidance or tuition, our team of experienced  Learning Support Tutors will be on hand to help.

exercise referral lectures

Again, the assessment methods are identical to those listed above. However, instead of completing a practical assessment at one of our training centres, you’ll record yourself teaching your client remotely, and submit this to us for assessment via our Learner Engagement System (LES). You don’t need any specialist equipment, as most students use their phone to record their practical assessment.

The workbooks and coursework is also completed in online in LES. This includes a range of web-based multiple choice, drag drop and match activities to assess your knowledge and understanding of key exercise referral subjects. You’ll also have a few worksheets and a real-life case study to complete.

exercise referral assessment screen

Whether you choose to complete this exercise referral online or at one of our venues, you’ll receive exactly the same industry recognised and Ofqual regulated qualification.

On completion of this course, you’ll be awarded with the YMCA Awards Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral.

This qualification is also recognised by CIMSPA and can therefore be used towards your annual CPD points.

YMCA Awards and CIMSPA logos

Attended Course: GP Referral

If you would like to complete your exercise referral qualification in person, then our attended programme will be perfect for you.

This course is delivered through blended learning, combining a short period of home study with 2 days of practical training and assessment.

The practical training is delivered at weekends from one of our regional training venues, which include London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Cardiff and York.

We’ve supplied a little more detail below about our attended programme. If however you do have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our Careers Team who will be more than happy to assist.

  • Home study

    You'll be required to complete the home study learning activities remotely (reading, watching videos, online quizzes) under the guidance of our Learning Support Team.

    We generally recommend that you allow yourself around 6-8 weeks to complete this, which is based on an average of 1 hour of learning per day.

  • Attendance

    You'll need to attend 2 days of practical training and assessment and these courses are usually held at weekends to maximise access for our students that are already working.

    During the course, you will participate in a range of classroom and practical activities that are designed to consolidate what you have learned at home and show you how to apply this knowledge to real-life scenarios in the exercise referral workplace.

  • Assessment

    During the home study period you will complete a range of online knowledge workbooks to demonstrate you are developing a good understanding of the medical conditions, medications, and how exercise can positively and negatively affect these.

    The final day of your attended course will require you to teach an exercise session to a simulated client (another student on the course) who has been referred to you with one or more long-term medical conditions. You’ll need to demonstrate to your assessor that you can teach safe and effective exercises to this client.

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