Physiotherapists in Cumbria said the CSP’s Love activity, Hate exercise? campaign helped inspire them to run a residential activity week for retired firefighters.
The mix of activity, which started on 20 August at the Fire Fighters Charity centre in Penrith, includes gardening, basic Pilates, walking and even ‘walking football’ in conjunction with Cumbria Football Association.
The six firefighters taking part are aged in their late 50s to early 90s and come from across the UK. All have co-morbidities and low activity levels.
Their programme began with physical assessments covering ability, endurance and balance. This was followed by a discussion about their expectations of the week and what they might achieve.
‘We have a timetable of activities which they may or may not have tried before, and that they could do at home or in their local community,’ said Louise Lawton who has been a full-time physiotherapist with the charity for five years.
‘Yesterday, we redesigned the garden to prepare it for winter, and they replanted all of our raised beds. And we had some “parachute” games, where everybody sits or stands in a circle holding the parachute, the idea being to work in a team on balance and coordination.’
Ms Lawton is one of six full-time physiotherapists at the Penrith centre, which is run by the charity to support the health and wellbeing of UK firefighters. It has other centres in Devon and west Sussex.
After the week is completed, the physiotherapists will check on the progress of the six, who can expect telephone reviews after one month and three months.
Reflecting on the programme so far, Ms Lawton said: ‘They have been highly motivated in all of the sessions and you can see by their expressions that they are enjoying them.
‘We had feedback from one of the gentlemen who talked about the psychological change. He was feeling much more positive about being able to improve and about what he needed to do.’
Ms Lawson said that peer support has been effective: ‘They are definitely encouraging each other and they don’t want to miss a session because they want to be together.
‘And I hope we have given them a toolkit which they can use when they go home to continue their activity.’
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