The Two Rivers Medical Centre in Ipswich has received an award from the Royal College of GPs and Sport England in recognition for achieving Active Practice status by reducing sedentary behaviour and increasing physical activity levels in staff and patients, as well as being part of an active community.

Helen Osborn, Deputy Business Manager at the Two Rivers Medical Centre said “Supporting our patients to increase their physical activity levels, which we know has a positive impact on their general health and wellbeing, is incredibly important to us. We are so proud and extremely happy to celebrate our Active Practice status, which has been made possible through the delivery of the Active Wellbeing Service, a collaboration between ourselves, Active Suffolk and the Most Active County (MAC) Partnership.”

The Active Wellbeing Service supports older adults (50+) who are currently inactive to receive bespoke support from one of Active Suffolk’s Physical Activity Advisors. This includes discussing their motivations and barriers to becoming more active and exploring different and creative options that are available locally to them with the aim to improve all areas of their health and wellbeing.

Mair Potter, Project Office at Active Suffolk who has been working on the Two Rivers Active Wellbeing project told us “It’s a real privilege to support clients to move more and to reach their physical activity goals. Clients are often surprised by their progress after 3 months and it’s a joy to see the improvements to other areas of their lives, once people start to exercise more regularly.

For instance; 62% of our clients found an improvement in their mental wellbeing score, despite the difficult times we are living in. We wouldn’t have seen these positive outcomes if not for the engagement and interaction of the Two Rivers Practice staff.

Despite the recent strain on staff members and the incredible work load they have had to take on, they have been really proactive in referring patients to us and it’s a pleasure to work alongside them.”

Janice Smith, a patient from the Two Rivers Medical Centre who accessed the Active Wellbeing service told us “I accessed the Active Wellbeing service at Two Rivers where I was supported by Mair Potter from the Active Suffolk team. I Found the sessions helpful; it really was the boost I needed, and it motivated me to make some positive changes to my lifestyle. I have been walking more, cycling and using the Wii fit. I also joined slimming world and lost 1 stone. All of these changes have supported me to improve my sleep, I feel more energetic and more importantly I am finding everyday tasks much easier.”

There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has caused significant disruption to our lives and routines. Despite people finding alternative activities to maintain participation during lockdown, activity levels significantly fell. Research shows that doing regular physical activity can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke by as much as 35% and decrease the risk of early death by as much as 30%. However, the UK population is around 20% less active than during the 1960s and physical inactivity is a significant financial burden, estimated to cost as much as £7.4 billion each year, including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone.

Nick Pringle, Senior Development Officer (Health & Wellbeing) at Active Suffolk told us “It is widely known that physical activity makes all people happier and healthier, and this is more important now than ever due to the pandemic. The Active Wellbeing service is demonstrating the positive effects that a coproduced physical activity support service has on people’s health and wellbeing. The achievement of the Active Practice Charter accreditation is thoroughly deserved and hopes to support the advocacy of movement as medicine long term at Two Rivers Medical Centre, and we encourage more GP Surgeries in Suffolk to explore obtaining this status too.”

One in four patients say they would be more active if it was recommended by a GP or nurse. And while many clinicians already promote physical activity in their surgeries, some identify barriers to prescribing exercise or discussing physical activity. The Active Wellbeing service also provides Physical Activity training for clinical and non-clinical staff at the surgery to enable staff to be equipped with the right skills, motivation and awareness of physical activity resources and tools to apply in their day-to-day practice.

Cllr James Reeder, Cabinet Member for Health and Prevention at Suffolk County Council said “Many congratulations to Two Rivers Medical Centre.”

“It’s very encouraging to hear how the practice has embraced physical activity as a practical way of preventing and treating disease. What is particularly pleasing to note is how they have upskilled a significant proportion of both their clinical and non-clinical staff to enable them to have a conversation about physical activity with patients. I strongly believe that embedding physical activity across healthcare is fundamental in reducing the huge burden of disease that we face as a society.”

“I hope this will be a catalyst for other surgeries to consider how they can integrate physical activity across everyday practice.”

For more information about the Active Wellbeing Service visit www.activesuffolk.org/the-active-wellbeing-service.

For more information about the Keep Moving Suffolk campaign, visit: www.keepmovingsuffolk.com.

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