Helping patients keep fit during the pandemic

9 October 2020

I’m going to dedicate most of this week’s blog post to discussing physical activity, but before I do so, let me take a moment to thank everyone who attended our informal virtual coffee morning on Tuesday.

Not only was it a good opportunity to catch up with GPs across Wales but topics were raised which will now form part of our efforts to influence Welsh Government and NHS Wales decision-makers. We plan to host another virtual coffee morning in November - details to follow.

Exercise and immunity

For now, break-time is over. We must instead talk about physical activity, exercise and immune function.

A paper published last month by Dr Alex Wadley, Dr Sam Lucas and Dr Brian Johnson highlighted the impact of COVID-19 and the associated lockdown with a drop-in exercise.

At the same time, the work of these three University of Birmingham academics highlights the direct benefit of such physical activity in boosting the immune system to better equip patients to keep viruses at bay and potentially reduce the most severe aspects of Coronavirus.

Dr Johnson also leads the Health Education and Improvement Wales Motivate2Move programme which partnered with the University of Birmingham to produce the factsheet (513 KB PDF) which can be helpful to both GPs when giving advice and to patients themselves.

Please do take a moment to look at the material and consider if it might be helpful for your patients.

RCGP Cymru Wales like to move it

I decided to check in on your RCGP Cymru Wales staff team to hear about their own lockdown exercise. With their permission, I can tell you that two of the team have done the Sofa to 5K programme and are now regularly running.

Nicolas informs me that his longest run was the equivalent of a half marathon, although ascending and descending stairs the following day was somewhat challenging! Jennie is running to raise money for Diabetes UK this month.

And while Karen’s preferred exercise of circuit training fell afoul of social distancing requirements, she has replaced it with the high intensity interval training discipline of Tabata using classes from YouTube to try a variety of exercises.

Tony has been taking the opportunity for long Summer walks, which have perhaps now become slightly shorter Autumn walks. I understand on one recent occasion he bumped into our very own Dr Rob Morgan while on a ramble.

Finally, Suzanne’s nonchalant "nothing exciting" response to being asked about her fitness regime concealed a busy schedule of yoga, exercise classes and running!

Impressive work from the team. One could even go so far as to say, "just what the doctor ordered".

Post written by

Professor Peter Saul, Joint Chair of RCGP Wales

Professor Peter Saul qualified in 1985 and currently is a partner in Rhosllanerchrugog near Wrexham. He combines his work in the practice with his other professional passion of medical education, in the role of Associate Postgraduate Dean in the Wales Deanery. He also works one session a week running the Paediatric Allergy Clinic at Chester Hospital.

Peter has been an active member of his local RCGP faculty, serving as Chair and as Treasurer. He is also actively involved with the media, with a medical column in the local newspaper and as a regular radio contributor.

For fun he rides a bike (his favourite being his red Brompton), and when in need of a loftier perspective he flies his part owned light aircraft from Welshpool Airport. He lives on a smallholding and has three grown up children, one of whom is a junior doctor in London.

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