When you think of a gym, you automatically think of a sweat box filled with super fit, perfectly toned young people furiously pushing themselves to their peak fitness performance to the beat of blaringly loud music.
What if I were to ask you to think of another scenario; a gym that welcomes people who have chronic pain, recovering from joint replacements, have arthritis, recovering from a heart attack or stroke, living with diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, fibromyalgia or breathing problems or similar conditions, what does that look like to you? Could this be possible?
Well, yes, actually, it is. We meet people like this every day and we have done for many years. They are on our Exercise Referral Schemes across Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Rutland.
Physical activity is often over-looked as an effective way of improving health problems, the first choice will usually be medication; exercise is something to be feared, surely, it will make the condition worse and should be avoided?
Over the years, we have seen how physical activity has helped thousands of people to improve or, maintain their medical problems, seen their physical and mental health improve dramatically and in some instances, this has meant that they have had their medication reduced or stopped altogether by their GP.
Referrals come to us from medical professionals; GP, Consultant, Physiotherapist, Nurse, Pharmacist, Sports Therapist, anyone who knows their medical condition and is happy that exercise will help them.
The referrals come with a variety of medical conditions:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Joint replacement rehabilitation
- Diabetes type 1 and 2
- Non- specific back pain
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Anxiety, depression, stress
Some of our centres also work with those who have coronary heart disease, cancer, stroke and pulmonary disease.
Not all referrals choose to go into the gym; they can swim, go to studio sessions, play badminton, play bowls or par 3 golf (depending on their local centres' facilities).
Each referral will have a free consultation with an Exercise Referral Coordinator who will go through their referral form with them to discuss their medical condition, medication, how active they are at the moment and what they enjoy doing. We will also discuss their eating habits, health behaviours such as smoking, alcohol, sleep and if they have any anxiety, depression or stress. Once all the information has been gathered, we can then set some goals together and provide them with exercise advice suitable for their medical condition.
If the gym is the preferred choice, they will be given an individual programme which is reviewed at regular intervals. We also offer a body composition scan to all exercise referral customers which provides us with a good picture of what makes them; fat, muscle and bone water percentage. It also shows us how much visceral fat, or fat around internal organs, which indicates if they are at risk of developing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer. We use this as one method of showing how they are progressing and reaching their goals.
We encourage long-term adherence to being physically active and offer the Exercise Referral Scheme at a concession price membership, or there is a pay as you go option.
The vision of the ‘sweat box’ could not be further than reality. The sessions are extremely social, people chatting and encouraging each other, new friendships being made, and in some cases, a sense of purpose and structure is given for their day.
If you would like more information regarding exercise referral please contact your nearest SLL centre.Back to Blog