The scheme is funded by Welsh Government and uses exercise to help people who have a chronic disease, or are at risk of developing a chronic disease, improve their health and fitness levels. Obesity, heart problems, mental health issues, Parkinson’s and diabetes are just some of the health conditions that scheme participants are learning to manage.
At a celebratory event in Chepstow Leisure Centre, over 100 participants of the scheme came from all over Monmouthshire to share their stories and tell how the scheme has made a difference to their lives.
Don belongs to the scheme in Abergavenny:
“I had knee and back problems when I first started going to the exercise classes. I had low energy levels and my stamina was low too. I’d always wanted to climb Dewerstone Rock but I couldn’t with my fitness levels being what they were. I started the exercise classes and within 10 months I did it. I climbed Dewerstone Rock.”
Anita Nottingham, a Chepstow resident, was one of the first people to join the Monmouthshire scheme:
“I found exercise hard at first and some days I just didn’t want to come to the classes. What really helped was buddying up with someone else on the scheme. It made me commit and helped me to make friends and improve my health at the same time.”
The Monmouthshire scheme was launched in 2008 with eight exercise referral classes across the county every week. There are now approximately 200 classes every month with over 2000 participants attending each month. Referrals from health professionals to the scheme have also increased from 15 to 100 per month (during the Randomised Control trial period).Joel Morgan, Exercise Referral Scheme Coordinator for Monmouthshire, is thrilled with the success of the scheme:
“There’s no doubt that the National Exercise Referral Scheme is making a huge difference to the lives of people in Monmouthshire. Not only does it improve the health and quality of life for those who come to the exercise classes, it also has a positive impact on their family’s lives. We’ve worked hard to make this scheme accessible to as many people as possible. We’re really proud of the success that we’ve had in Monmouthshire and hope we can celebrate our birthdays next year and far into the future.”
Ian Saunders, Leisure Activities Manager for Monmouthshire County Council said:
“The National Exercise Referral Scheme has become a cornerstone of the leisure centres day time activities and has shown fabulous results from a great team of highly qualified exercise professionals. People in the county have identified that they want more of this type of help. We recognises the importance of meeting this need and we are committed to this challenge.”
Councillor Giles Howard, Monmouthshire’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for leisure centres said:
“There’s a lot of hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make the exercise referral scheme the huge success that it is. I’d like to recognise that and say thank you to all those who have been involved. Their efforts have made a considerable difference to the health and wellbeing of many Monmouthshire residents.”
If you’d like to find out more about Monmouthshire’s exercise referral scheme, visit www.monleisure.co.uk