Health Development: Changing the conversation around activity

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Middlesbrough Council’s Health Development team is supporting You’ve Got This to evolve the way they approach health and well-being in South Tees.

Long-term commitment

Public Health South Tees’ Health Development team work to identify the key health issues for the area and use physical activity interventions to support the prevention and, where required, rehabilitation of ill health. This work is complemented by the objectives of You’ve Got This. 

“You’ve Got This matters to us because, although we now understand that physical activity is key in having a healthy life and improving both physical and mental wellbeing, not everyone understands just how important it is and how activity can have such a positive impact on life. Being physically active isn’t as easy and there are numerous factors as to why people may not be active. This movement looks into these reasons and takes a much deeper approach to making physical activity a natural part of our lives. We know this is not a quick fix and will take time to embed this, but we intend to support You’ve Got This for the long haul as the outcomes will be life-changing for some people.”

Overcoming barriers

You’ve Got This is supporting Health and Physical Activity Development Manager Robin Bedford and the Health Development team in their work to help people get active. 

“The fear of entering the gym or doing a class is enough to put people off but if we can get people there, we know they will not only enjoy the exercise but also the social side of it. Meeting new people and sharing a cup of tea after sessions is just as important. We want to support people to be able to exercise and feel safe doing it. Learning from the research that You’ve Got This has done, taking that and making sure we act on it is helping us change the way we work to do that.” 

Keeping staff active

As well as its work in the community, the Health Development team is doing more to help staff be active. Its Stretchwell programme encourages team members to stop work and perform stretches at their desk. 

Staff are encouraged to use their flexible working schedule for activity and partake in lunchtime movement classes. Active travel is also promoted, with shower facilities that allow people to ride or run to the office and freshen up before starting work.  

“Staff are seeing the importance of making sure they’re not sitting at their desk for too long and how being active can help with the stresses of work. There will be people who are not quite ready to make the change, but by having the offer of activity available, along with the support we can give them, I hope that it will become a natural part of working life.”

Taking the right approach

As a close ally in supporting You’ve Got This, the Health Development team hopes to evolve in line with the movement. 

“As more work is done by You’ve Got This in identifying barriers to activity, we want to adapt and change what we’re doing. We’ve made a commitment to always be open to change and want to make sure we’re delivering services that are required in the correct way, not just how we think they should be delivered. You’ve Got This’ research will be key in helping us do this.”

One change that the Health Development team has already implemented is in the conversation around activity. 

“We’re certainly thinking more about the consistency of the message and branding around the importance of physical activity since being involved with You’ve Got This. It’s not about telling people they have to go to the gym, run a marathon or even exercise for 30 minutes a day, five times a week. It’s about telling them that something is better than nothing, no matter how much that is. It’s doing what you can and making goals that work for you.” 

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