A physio-led programme in Cardiff has celebrated a decade of helping people with learning disabilities to get fit and combat obesity.
Left to right: Specialist physio Andrea Hounsell, Fit 4 Life award-winner Will Good and specialist physio and project lead Gwen Thomas
Fit 4 Wales has been run by physiotherapists from the Cardiff community support team, part of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, since 2005.
Adults who have learning disabilities receive regular assessments and tailored weekly exercise programmes.
The project marked its anniversary with a ceremony in Cardiff on 8 September where members who had achieved significant improvements in their weight, mobility or fitness were given awards.
They included Will Good who received an award for losing 76kg (12st) over 10 years.
Project co-ordinator Gwen Thomas, a specialist community physiotherapist for adults with learning disabilities, said: ‘During the course of the programme we have also seen people who have made a long-term commitment to a healthy lifestyle, and they are just as important to recognise.
‘Addressing your obesity in the first instance is a challenge, but maintaining your achievements over the long-term can be even more of a challenge – and participants like Will Good are a perfect example of that type of dedication.’
Ms Thomas explained that participants are advised to keep fitness diaries to log their efforts and encourage commitment. They are monitored every three months to chart any progress.
‘At baseline we record, height, weight, resting heart rate and blood pressure, as well as body fat percentage, hydration, body mass index waist circumference, grip strength, peak expiratory flow and “sit and reach” flexibility test,’ she said.
‘Then we give advice and, if necessary, refer them to our exercise groups before re-testing six and 12 months later.’
Ms Thomas co-wrote a paper about the project with Mike Kerr, professor of epilepsy and neuro-psychiatry at Cardiff University, which appeared in 2011.
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