Active Practice in action
Publication date: 21 September 2021
Dr Hussain Al-Zubaidi discusses how Clarendon Lodge Medical Practice's Active Practice journey took them from a simple idea to starting a physical activity community and lifestyle commitment.
How it started
The fitness club began as an online platform using social media to promote physical activity. It allowed us to form connections within the community by setting collective goals which everyone could contribute to (e.g. the #pledge10000 campaign: encouraging patients to run, walk, cycle or swim 10,000 km). Members began connecting and providing support and encouragement to each other, forming an online community.
Social media can be a double edged sword for many, but when it's used in the right way it can make a real difference. We used various platforms - Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Strava - to promote positive messages and get word out there about what we were doing. Strava in particular allowed us to connect really well as a group, by setting up challenges, posting event updates, and creating a supportive environment.
We officially launched in September 2019, holding a national fitness day event out of the practice. It offered free taster sessions with local fitness groups and personal trainers, as well as stalls promoting parkrun and Walk for Health. Health professionals were on demand to advise on the physical and mental health benefits.
We initially only utilised existing events. However, over time we supplemented this with activities run by the practice.
- Parkrun: We became a ‘’Parkrun’’ practice which is a global free weekly 5km event. We frequently attend our local Parkrun to promote physical activity and be present to support those whom we have signposted to attend.
- Run Talk Run: A fast growing national mental health support running group with over 150 groups across the UK. We set two groups up in our local area and they have gone from strength to strength!
- Walk for Health: A national walking scheme offering free short walks around the country. We launched our own walk, taking various ability groups through the stunning parks of Leamington Spa.
- Nordic Walking: Patient champion Mick via Primemovers CIC promotes the benefits of this low impact high cardio activity.
- Chair based exercises: A local personal trainer, Nina Mortas, developed a chair based exercise video for our local care homes.
- Heart & Mind Series: We published short videos on a range of topics accessible via our website and YouTube channel.
Our programme has changed over time. Initially we focused on achieving Active Practice Charter status, a crucial but simple and effective step for any practice. As things progressed, our ambitions grew. By reaching out to our community via social media we discovered patient champions willing to help us on our journey.
We now host four events a week and this is a significant time commitment; however, they're easily the highlights of our week.
1. Wellbeing of the community
a. Regular exercise is 1 of the 5 steps to wellness (Better Health - NHS)
b. Encourages group events like Parkrun & Run Talk Run
2. Reduction in medication use
a. Mental health: Improved sleep, mood, anxiety and stress reducing the need for psychotropic medications
b. Physical health: Important factor in weight management, joint and cardiovascular health, in turn reducing the need for anti-hypertensive, statin & analgesic medication
3. Tackling social isolation
a. All practice run activities were designed with a strong focus on friendship
Collaborations and partners
Forming connections with our local healthcare trust, businesses, physical activity groups and leaders was vital to the club's success.
Our local active partnership (Think Active) worked with us to support both our clinical and non-clinical staff. They also provided free training for our primary care network's social prescribers. Helping educate staff to the benefits of physical activity and participation in exercise to improve wellbeing. They offer a variety of different courses and workshops. Engage with your local active partnership to find out what they offer.
Find out more
- Clarendon Lodge Medical Practice Fitness Club
- Heart & Mind video series
- Think Active: Courses and workshops for GPs and healthcare professionals
About the writers
- Dr Hussain Al-Zubaidi: Lifestyle GP & Club Lead
- Mick Hurrell: Fitness Coach & Patient Champion
- Stephen Gallagher: Practice Manager
- Dr Shahnaz Hassan: Psychiatrist
- Simon Perkins: Patient & Physical Activity Champion