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More than half of people who attended a free nutrition and exercise programme in Carnforth have reported reductions in their cholesterol, weight and the level of pain they experience on a daily basis.

The health programme known as ‘Active Lives’ is a free, diet, nutrition and exercise project being run in Carnforth by the local NHS community and Lancaster City Council (LCC) employees from Salt Ayre Leisure Centre.

The initiative was introduced into the Carnforth Integrated Care Community (ICC) – with the support of Sarah Baines, the Integrated Care Coordinator for the Carnforth ICC and Dr David Wrigley, the lead GP for the Carnforth ICC – to address the increasing number of people suffering joint problems in the area whilst encouraging people to achieve a healthy weight through lifestyle changes.

While more than half of the people who attended the sessions regularly over the course of the twelve week programme have seen significant improvements to their health, more specifically two individuals have stopped taking their pain medication for arthritis altogether as a result of the initiative.

Additionally, 100% of people who attended the sessions regularly have reduced their blood glucose levels by an average of over 6%.

The programme has also resulted in improvements to the wellbeing of attendees, with one participant scoring a 19% boost in their wellbeing.

The programme consists of a two hour session each week for 12 weeks. The sessions are fun, interactive and provide nutritional advice, weight loss management and individual exercise programmes.

Marian Worthington, programme attendee said: “It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. The sessions have made me think about healthy eating and portion size, I also do the exercises every morning! Since coming I no longer need to take pain medication for my arthritis which is great!”

David Field, who also attended said: “The programme has helped me to rehabilitate my leg after surgery which I was previously struggling with.”

All patients registered at Ash Trees GP Surgery in Carnforth who had a Body Mass index (BMI) between 25 and 34.9 and had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the past two years were invited to take part in the ‘Active Lives’ programme. It was hoped that encouraging patients with osteoarthritis to exercise could prolong the life of their joints.

Dr David Wrigley, GP, Ash Trees Surgery, Carnforth said: “It’s refreshing to see patients coming together to learn more about their conditions and improve their health in an innovative way. Although they are based on a small number of patients, the results are extremely encouraging- we are looking forward to expanding the programme to larger numbers.”

As the programme aims for long term changes that people can sustain participants have been provided with further opportunities to continue their exercise. Additionally, Sarah Baines is arranging further twelve week programmes for new participant groups. Sarah said: “We want to provide the right care in the right place for a semi-rural community. Access to activities can be difficult for those living in semi-rural areas and so we wanted to bring the care to our community and provide opportunities for people who otherwise might not have been able to access them.”

The programme attendees will have their measurements repeated three months after programme completion and again six months later to evaluate the longer term impact of the initiative.

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