Carol Corbett, ILAM, YMCA Fitness Trainer Award, Dip Sports Ther, Dip Sports Massage; Becky Woodiwiss, BSc Hons, PG Dip Health Ed
Carol-Health Liaison Officer, Co-ordinator and Lead Instructor, Exercise Recommendation Scheme, Crawley Borough Council; Becky-Formerly Health Promotion Specialist, Crawley Primary Care Trust, West SussexCrawley Borough Council in West Sussex has funded an exercise recommendation scheme (ERS) for the past six years, in collaboration with West Sussex health promotion department and Crawley Primary Care Trust. It enables people in the local community to be guided through a safe, effective, enjoyable exercise programme tailored to their needs under careful supervision. Many people become unfit through inactivity and the ERS is a way to get back into exercise.
The scheme is run by qualified fitness instructors who have attained the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management Certificate of Competence. This is a GP referral scheme qualification and is taught by doctors and sports specialists.
Health professionals such as doctors, practice nurses, physiotherapists, dietitians, cardiac rehabilitation teams and so on are invited to identify patients with low-risk health problems who they feel would benefit from regular supervised exercise. Such problems include general lack of condition owing to lifestyle, high blood pressure, asthma, muscular/joint problems, stress/anxiety and depression, being overweight, obesity, diabetes and so on.
Patients are invited to a welcome meeting two weeks before the start of the scheme. This offers them a chance to meet other participants, discuss the scheme with instructors and ask questions about beginning an exercise programme. They are allocated to their classes, given timetables and asked to book a 20-minute pre-assessment appointment. At this stage, they also sign a consent form, to confirm that they understand what the scheme entails and that they will inform the instructors of any health or medication changes that may occur while they are on the programme.
Many people have enjoyed being part of the scheme and have given positive feedback. People who have had replacement hips or knees have noted that they have an improved range of movement after regular exercise, and have found that by continuing stretching at home every day they continue to improve. They have often been surprised that they can do many of the exercises if they persevere and keep moving their muscles.
The council hopes to continue the ERS and get as many people in our community as possible involved with movement and physical activity. We accept people aged 18-75 years. In practice, most participants have been aged 45-70 years.
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