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Learning to keep fit

A fitness drive led by physiotherapists at Bro Morgannwg trust is helping adults with learning disabilities achieve a healthier lifestyle.

More than 200 people joined the Fit 4 Wales scheme last year, developed to support them in making exercise a regular habit.

One year on, it’s seeing real benefits, project coordinator Gwen Thomas told Frontline: ‘These guys have made a significant difference to their health, as proven by their body fat/BMI scores and so on.’

Other outcome measures used include weight, heart rate, blood pressure, grip strength, peak flow, and sit and reach
(to test flexibility).

The participants, all learning disability clients from Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, are assessed before being prescribed personal weekly exercise programmes. They are encouraged to keep fitness diaries to log their efforts and encourage commitment, and monitored every three months to chart any progress.

Tailoring programmes to suit individual preference and ability had helped to keep people motivated, Ms Thomas said, as did having a broad definition of exercise, which included daily living activities. So while some participants had joined exercise groups and local sports clubs to swim, cycle and play tennis, others had become more active through walking, gardening and even fishing.

The dropout rate was low and mainly due to illness, Ms Thomas said. In fact, the number taking part has risen by 15 per cent.

A medal ceremony was held recently to celebrate the efforts participants have made so far to achieve their health and fitness goals.

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