With this year almost at an end and 2011 around the corner, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging people with specific health conditions to join the Healthwise scheme – a free 12 week physical activity programme.
The scheme is available at registered leisure centres and Healthy Living Centres (HLCs) within the Belfast and South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust areas and is for people with certain health conditions who have been referred by their GP, nurse or other health professionals.
The scheme is suitable for those with:
• high blood pressure;
• a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25;
• asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
• coronary heart disease and associated risk factors;
Trained health and fitness staff at each centre will be on hand to take each person through the scheme over the 12 weeks. They will develop a physical activity referral programme to suit a person’s health needs and monitor any improvements to the person’s health. Some activities include walking, swimming, group activities and training in a fitness suite.
Nicky McKee, Physical Activity Referral Officer, PHA said: “Many benefits can be gained from physical activity. We encourage everyone to get active but, for some people this isn’t always easy, especially those who already have health conditions. The Healthwise scheme is important because those on it can benefit from physical activity in a safe, friendly and warm environment, tailored to suit their health needs and beneficial to their overall health.”
Linda Little, a Nurse Practitioner at Grove Medical Practice who works with participants on the Healthwise scheme says: “The Healthwise scheme has been a success at the Grove as, initially, some participants have been nervous about going to the gym, but once they join Healthwise, they have found physical activity enjoyable thanks to the scheme. We have found participants with a variety of problems, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease who have continued physical activity after the 12 weeks, which has made an overall improvement to their physical and mental health.”
Councillor Peter O’ Reilly, Chairman of the Parks and Leisure committee at Belfast City Council, added: “The Healthwise physical activity referral scheme has been one of our most successful partnerships with our fitness instructors dealing with around 1,000 people a year. It is a model of inter-agency co-operation and partnership between the council, the Health and Social Care Trust and the Belfast Education and Library Board and fulfils one of our key aims to help Belfast be a healthier city. Each of our leisure centres have instructors trained in the scheme who are able to tailor the 12 week exercise programmes to individuals’ needs.”
See the attached leaflet and poster for more information.
Notes to the editor
• The Public Health Agency (PHA) funds the Healthwise scheme.
• The Healthwise scheme lasts 12 weeks and is free of charge to the participant.
• For a list of leisure and Healthy Living Centres (HLCs) that run the Healthwise scheme, visit: www.belfastcity.gov.uk or for a list of participating Belfast leisure centres download the flyer attached above.
• To arrange an interview about the Healthwise scheme contact the PHA Press Office on: 028 9031 1611.
• Government guidelines on physical activity suggest 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity, at least five times a week to gain a health benefit.