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Exercise is a key to wellness
By Bobby Ellington   View more articles by this author
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October 1

According to the World Health Organisation, health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Physical activity can significantly improve both physical and mental well-being and reduce all-cause mortality throughout life. It can also improve life expectancy. For example, physical activity can help prevent and mange over twenty conditions and diseases including coronary heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders and obesity.

There is also overwhelming evidence that suggests it can improve mood, reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression and mental health, aid with weight control, body image and self esteem as well as provide an excellent opportunities to enhance social interaction.

Physical inactivity costs the NHS an estimated £0.9 billion due to disease that can be prevented through regular physical activity. In 2011 the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) issued joint UK physical activity guidelines for people of all ages. For adults, the guidelines recommend being active daily and accumulating at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes vigorous activity, in bouts of 10 minutes or more over a week, regardless of your health status and physical condition.

The guidelines also strongly recommend minimising sedentary behaviour such as sitting for long periods, with new evidence now suggesting that sedentary behaviours can be harmful to even those that meet the physical activity guidelines.

In England in 2008, based on self-reporting, 39% of men and 29% of women aged 16+ met the minimum physical activity recommendations.

Physical activity levels vary according to income, gender, age, ethnicity and disability, with leisure physical activity levels lower among certain minority groups, people from lower socioeconomic groups and those with disabilities. Therefore access to regular physical activity programmes and leisure facilities is extremely important if we are to improve health status both nationally and locally.

In Kingston, the Get Active Exercise Referral Programme (managed by the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames Public Health Team in partnership with DC Leisure and YMCA London South West) allows GP’s and other health professionals to refer clients to a qualified exercise specialist at one of the participating leisure centres where a 12 week personal exercise programme can be delivered in a suitable and safe environment.

It introduces people to the benefits of physical activity to help them with existing medical conditions and as a preventative measure against further ill-health and to promote future good health.

We often see members of the public who live a sedentary lifestyle and are de-motivated towards regular physical activity. Behaviour change is a huge aspect of our programme, and our exercise specialists work exceptionally hard to improve people’s attitude towards exercise and increase their participation in physical activity for the duration of the 12 week programme and beyond.

We are a dedicated team that promote life-long physical activity. Our exercise specialists utilise their skills and experience in exercise prescription and behaviour change on a daily basis by implementing techniques such as motivational interviewing, goal setting, rewards and provision of on-going support.

Get Active is predominantly a one-to-one intervention, but we also provide aquacise classes, walking groups and Active Gardening sessions that are very well attended. Our service users enjoy the psychosocial benefits of a group intervention and gain motivation through professional or peer support.

In addition to the Get Active Programme, there are a number of other local physical activity programmes that can be taken advantage of such as the Change 4 Life Programmes, which include Walk4Life, Parkrun, Dance4Life and Cycle Kingston, as well as access to a sports directory for those looking for more challenging activities.


For more information on the programmes available in Kingston, visit the Active Lifestyles page on the Kingston CCG website.

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