There goes my hero...


One example of a soldier’s determination of not letting illness or injury defeat them is Lance Corporal Derek Derenalagi from Hertfordshire. He was initially pronounced dead when his vehicle hit an IED in Afghanistan in 2007. A medic found a pulse and saved his life. Unfortunately Derek lost both legs from below the knee. Derek watched the Beijing Paralympics whilst undergoing rehabilitation and was so inspired that he decided to take up athletics. He took part in the 100 and 200 meters race, shot putt and javelin.

It got me thinking about the people who are on our Exercise Referral Schemes across the SLL centres.

How many times have you thought to yourself that you would like to start exercise and how many times have you managed to talk yourself out of it within 20 seconds?! Maybe your PB is 10 seconds! In the words of “The Boss” – Baby, we were born to run.  The next line of the song should be “Baby, we were not born to sit on the sofa!

It takes a huge amount of courage for some people to make the decision to come down to the gym and throughout the 16 years that I have worked with GP referral customers I have met some inspirational people;

Mr A – 28 stone, diabetic, kidney failure, stroke, depression, smoked 100 cigarettes a day and hadn’t exercised for years.

Mrs A – 72 years old, Widowed, depressed and suffering with arthritis, never been in a gym.

Mr B – 19 years old, mental health problems, suicidal

Miss A – 32 years old, in remission from cancer

Mr C – 65 years old, heart attack, depression

Mrs C – 42 years old, debilitating back problem

That’s just for starters!

Each one of these customers has had huge personal problems to overcome. The great news is that there is improvement in not only their physical abilities but their mental health too.

We all have days when we can’t be bothered to do anything, I work full time as the Health and Wellbeing Manager but go out in the evenings to instruct studio fitness sessions. Going home from work and getting comfy on my sofa with my cat on my lap really makes it difficult to come back out to work. I need the proverbial boot- up -the -bum to get me out the door at times, especially in the winter but I have a studio of 40+ people waiting for me and as soon as the music goes on I’m raring to go!

We have to make an effort to look after our own health and wellbeing – no one can do it for us. I have probably heard every excuse going as to why you can’t exercise but let me tell you people, there is always time, it can be free and there is always something you can do!

What is fantastic about exercise is that you don’t have to be competing in a sporting event to reap health benefits, 30 minutes a day of moderate activity is all that is needed and this can be split into 10 minute sessions throughout the day.

If exercise were a pill, GP’s would prescribe it for everyone; it really does reduce the risk of developing chronic health problems, inactivity is the world’s 4th reason for premature death. In Hertfordshire 60 % of men and70% of women don’t do the minimum recommended amount of physical activity but even more shocking, 50% of people in Herts do nothing!

This next paragraph needs some stirring, rousing music in the background as you read it, maybe Land of Hope and Glory or Let’s Get Physical.

At the Invictus Games there were able bodied service men and women who were proud to be there in their uniforms and were a credit to their country. The injured service men looked equally as proud wearing the GB tracksuit and we should honour them for their achievements.

On a daily basis our GP Referral customers are my hero’s. They have got themselves into a good place and had their own battles along the way but they have made it, they are achieving their own personal goals and setting themselves new ones, they too deserve a medal.

If Lance Corporal Derenalagi can be inspired to take up sport after suffering horrendous injuries and if the customers on the GP Referral schemes can find the time and courage to become physically active the message is very clear, you can to!

I am on my feet, standing ovation to the Military and to the SLL Exercise Referral customers – crying again!

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