Exercising for better health

Exercising for better health

The benefits of exercise to help recovery from major life-threatening conditions such as cancer, COPD, heart attack and stroke are well documented, as too are improvements in patients’ life expectancy.

love_swimmingWe have already highlighted the benefit of exercise in coping with poor mental health, with the example of University of Bristol. 

To reinforce this, new research recently released has shown that swimming significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety or depression for 1.4 million adults in Britain.

The need and willpower to get better and to achieve a new level of normality, drives patients suffering ill-health to explore many avenues for their treatment. Exercise is one of them, and is often offered through a referral scheme from a doctor or consultant.

For many who haven’t been before, a visit to the gym can be a daunting prospect. They are entering a world alien to what they are used to and have no idea of what this exercise regimen will entail. Having a trained exercise professional there who is approachable and welcoming, to advise and support them, will make a world of difference to the success of the referral and the patient’s enjoyment of the exercise experience.

Brian’s story: ‘The personal approach will always win.’

Brian Gemmell
Personal Trainer Brian Gemmell

As part of our students’ profiling series, after featuring fitness instructor Patricia Park who emphasised on the value and benefits of exercise referral scheme, we approached Brian Gemmell, a self-employed fitness instructor based south of Glasgow (Scotland) who shared his experience.

Developing exercise knowledge for self and others

After qualifying at Level 2 in several exercise-based subjects including Fitness Instructor and achieving Level 3 Personal Trainer, Brian went on to qualify with WRIGHT Foundation at Level 3 Diploma in Exercise Referral to give him a better understanding of referral schemes, how they work and how he could participate in them. He then qualified in 2017 in Level 4 Cancer Rehabilitation and more recently trained at Level 4 Cardiac Rehabilitation.

For Brian, exercise has become key to his own wellbeing. By expanding his skills he is also able to give his clients who are living with and beyond cancer a more focused exercise programme.

Brian appreciates that the knowledge he gained on the courses was immense. “I can now sit with a client, asking them the correct questions, tailor their workout to suit the needs of their medical condition with the confidence that I know what I am doing. I can help them even more and that is very satisfying.”

In Brian’s experience, many of his clients have a medical condition such as thyroid related issues, high/low blood pressure or a respiratory condition. They are often reluctant to speak about it openly.

It is essential that the exercise professional knows what questions to ask, what signs to look for so that they build trust with their clients and they in turn can open up about their conditions. The personal approach is very important.

Make exercise personal

One of Brian’s clients, a lady in her mid-50s from Glasgow, has had three heart stents fitted and also suffers from high blood pressure. When she was first referred, she was unsure of what she could do at the gym.

In order to gain her trust, Brian took time to explain to her the training he had undertaken and qualifications he held. He then tailored a programme to suit her with gentle fitness, indoor cycling and other exercise suited to her medical history.

She is now much more aware of what her own body can do, working to her abilities and is leading a healthier and fitter life. Brian regularly keeps in touch with her. “I want to make sure she has a varied programme, so that she does not get bored with coming to the gym.”  Indeed, clients are much more likely to remain as gym members after the referral period, knowing that they will receive personal attention from instructors who are aware of their medical history.

Lorraine Nicholson
WRIGHT Foundation Training Director Lorraine Nicholson

Training Director Lorraine Nicholson says “Exercise is a key element in people’s recovery from ill-health.  The qualifications that Brian gained through WRIGHT Foundation empowers exercise professionals to guide people to a healthier lifestyle through exercise which will maximise their chance of living better and longer. Health and wellbeing of the patient is always at the heart of our courses.”



Are you a past student of WRIGHT Foundation? Would you like to be featured on our blog?

Call us on 01307 469055 or drop us a line at info@wrightfoundation.com. We would be delighted to hear about your progress, ask you a few questions and share your story.

If you have any queries about our courses – GP Exercise Referral, Specialist Conditions including Exercise for Long Term Neurological Conditions – please do call us on 01307 469055 or use the contact form.

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Exercise is Medicine for Good Mental Health

Exercise is Medicine for Good Mental Health

Poor Mental Health: we are all concerned

Ways to recognise and deal with poor mental health are increasingly being highlighted in the media, making it the focus of many national and local initiatives in the UK to help tackle its consequences. According to statistics published on the Mental Health Foundation website, 4 to 10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime, some with tragic consequences such as suicide. We are all at risk to have poor mental health at some point in our life, from childhood to our older age, whatever our activity at home, at school or at work.

A Factsheet from Mental Health Network, published in 2017, highlights that deteriorating mental health has a direct negative impact on physical health, with people with a mental illness almost twice as likely to die from coronary heart disease as the general population, four times more likely to die from respiratory disease and are at a higher risk of being overweight or obese.

Restoring and maintaining your mental health

Whilst medication is reported as the most common type of treatment for mental health problems, there is a body of evidence that demonstrates that undertaking some form of exercise, together with other activities, will greatly help with instilling a feeling of wellbeing and maintain good mental health


Exercise is medicine for better mental health at Bristol University

On Mental Health Day (10th October), we spent some time talking to Peter Burrows, Physical Activity & Health Development Officer (pictured below) at Bristol University.

Bristol University like many other Higher Education institutions has sadly seen a rise in the number of suspected suicides among its student population. While trying to understand the reasons behind these untimely deaths, the University has taken a number of active steps to address poor mental health of students, one of which is introducing the Healthy Minds Scheme.

Bristol University: Healthy Minds Scheme

The Healthy Minds Scheme  is run by the Division of Sport Exercise and Health and is a pioneering approach to user-led physical activity that seeks to positively impact on students experiencing mental health difficulty whilst at University.

Students who approach the Student Counselling Team or the Mental Health Advisory Service showing symptoms of poor mental health are clinically assessed to be accepted on the Scheme. Peter and his team of exercise professionals then work to create an activity plan for them which is based around 3 months of free access to premium membership including the gym, pool, exercise classes and social sport opportunities. They get multiple contact points with their mentor in the gym to progress their routines and are guided towards an exit route that looks to maintain their health behaviour either through the gym or by joining an active club or society.

Peter Burrows
Peter Burrows, Bristol University

Last year I ran the programme entirely by myself and was able to support around 60 students through the scheme”, Peter says. “We have significantly expanded the programme this year to include a programme coordinator and embed the fitness team into the delivery of the project. As such we were looking for appropriate training to support our staff. We sought out the WRIGHT Foundation Level 4 Mental Health course earlier this summer with 5 of us from the University of Bristol attending. It turned out to be the perfect training opportunity to support the project and prepare our staff for working with this specialist population. The course was insightful and in depth and really reinforced the work I’d done previously in designing and implementing the project to support mental health through physical activity“. With the growing and newly qualified team in place, the Healthy Minds Scheme hopes to reach and support upward of 500 students in 2018-19.

Students Beth and Isaac took part in the Scheme. Put the volume on to listen to and watch their stories:

Healthy Minds for better mental health: future plans

Peter has ambitious plans to further expand the programme to offer a less intensive model which could make the programme more scalable and even extend the service to staff with a view to to taking a more preventive approach rather than what is currently a curative one.

In 2017, the ukactive Research Institute, in collaboration with Precor and Scottish Student Sport released a key report highlighting the important role physical activity can play in a university student’s life. This year, with the additional collaboration of British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS), the research covered Britain. This report titled ‘The ‘British Active Students Survey’, highlighted the benefits of physical activity on mental health. With this evidence in hand, Bristol University, in conjunction with nine other universities, has now bid for and been approved funding through BUCS and Sport England to continue to expand the scheme and help develop a delivery model that can be adopted by other institutions in the HE sector as the benchmark in physical activity to support mental health.

Lorraine Nicholson
WRIGHT Foundation Training Division Director Lorraine Nicholson

Lorraine Nicholson, Training Division Director at WRIGHT Foundation CIC, said “It is a great honour to be involved in the running of such a worthwhile Scheme that is reaping benefits for the students and improve their mental health. We look forward to working further with Bristol University, and indeed other universities that are thinking of adopting this model.”

If you want to find out more about the Healthy Minds Scheme at Bristol University, please contact Peter Burrows directly on 0117 928 9000 .

If your organisation wants to host a WRIGHT Foundation Level 4 Mental Health course or have any queries on this and other WRIGHT Foundation courses, please contact us on 01307469055 or info@wrightfoundation.com.