Every day, as a GP, Dr Rupert Woolley, sees patients whose health would be significantly improved if they took some simple yet effective steps to becoming more active.
So a scheme to get the people of Reading, Burghfield, Mortimer, Pangbourne and Theale, more active – but in a fun way - is just what the doctor ordered!
Dr Woolley, who is the CCGs' lead GP for the Beat the Street scheme, which has just launched in Reading and the surrounding area, said: "Our bodies are designed to be active and we know that physical activity is now known to improve 23 long-term conditions. Medical evidence shows that exercise is a more important contributor to good health than, for example, a person's weight, as it reduces risk across a range of conditions including diabetes, hypertension, certain cancers and dementia.
"We have also long known about the positive link between taking regular exercise and good mental health."
Dr Rupert Woolley
Beat the Street (which kicked off on 29 April and runs to 24 June 2015) is a walking and cycling competition designed to encourage people to increase their levels of physical activity, with the aim of developing healthy lifestyle changes that last a lifetime. Beat the Street is jointly funded by the NHS North and West Reading and NHS South Reading Clinical Commissioning Groups, and Reading Borough Council's Public Health Team. It is delivered by Reading-based health IT company, Intelligent Health using their Beat the Street technology.
To take part, residents pick up a Beat the Street card from a local GP practice, Reading Museum, local library or Reading Borough Council Leisure Centre. Students can collect cards from the student union on Reading University's White Knights campus. The card activates when tapped against a Beat Box from 29 April; tapping another within an hour records the journey. Anyone can take part – individually or as part of a team. Participants can win prizes for themselves and their community team by using their Beat the Street cards. They are able to monitor their progress, view maps and full terms and conditions via a secure website: http://reading.beatthestreet.me
Dr Woolley continues: "According to government statistics, 40 per cent of the UK population is getting less than 30 minutes' physical activity per week and I urge people in Reading and the surrounding area to avoid being part of that statistic.
It would be great to see as many local people as possible taking part in Beat the Street - particularly those with long term health conditions. As a GP, I like to encourage my patients to take greater control over managing their own health – and Beat the Street helps them to do exactly that."
The scheme offers a programme of community activities in and around Reading that incorporate exercise, offer the chance to meet new people and develop positive new habits. Reading Borough Council's Walk Leaders are getting involved by offering walking routes that will enable people to log the distance covered by tapping their Beat the Street card on Beat Boxes on the route.
Dr Woolley ends by saying: "Exercise doesn't have to be onerous – it means walking to the shops instead of driving, or going out for lunch – on foot – rather than eating at our desk. It simply means moving around more – and this initiative makes exercise as fun as possible."
Media contact for Berkshire West CCGs
- Sarah Rayner-Osbon: / 07917 183 365
- Steven Buckley: / 07789 933 276