Get yourself active blog

It’s a walk in the park

By Sue Bott

Sue BottDon’t you just love the new Get Yourself Active website?  What could be better than a walk, run, roll in the park especially in the spring when the sun is out and the birds are singing?

For me doing something active has always been the answer to any upset I have experienced or argument I have had. Even as a child if I got told off I’d stomp off and go for a walk.

Doing something physically active in whatever way, however small just makes such a difference to your sense of wellbeing. It amazes me that the health and social care worlds just don’t recognise what a difference a bit of exercise makes.

I’m not saying it is the cure all but shouldn’t disabled people and people with long-term health conditions be given a chance to rely less on medication, to have the chance to be mobile in the swimming pool, to pull weights in the gym?

The problem is that the worlds of sport and leisure, health, and social care don’t talk to each other let alone join up but they need to if people are going to have a good quality of life. The result is that millions of pounds are wasted on solutions that simply don’t work for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. One of my friends has rheumatoid arthritis. On holiday in Holland, she hired a motorised tricycle.  It did wonders for her mobility. When she next saw her consultant she asked if she could have a personal health budget to get a tricycle to reduce her reliance on medication. As it happens the consultant was very supportive and thought it a good idea but said she had no idea how she would get through the bureaucracy to make it happen.

Personal budgets give people an opportunity to decide what works best for them within the resources available. If that includes a chance of sport or exercise why not? Isn’t it up to us, the disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, to decide what our priorities are and what works best for us? So come on any health and social care professions reading this. Don’t put obstacles in our way let us improve our wellbeing.

And woe betide anybody who stops me taking a walk in the park. I will become very depressed, very grumpy and I won’t be responsible for my actions. So there!

Sue Bott is Deputy CEO of Disability Rights UK has been active in the disability movement in the UK for many years.

Follow Sue’s guide dog @guidedogfaith to keep an eye on her movements!!

10 thoughts on “It’s a walk in the park”

  1. I get sick of experts telling me to “get active” like it’s easy and some sort of magic bullet cure all.

    It’s patronising. It’s offensive.

    1. We are sorry you feel that you are always being told to get active. The GYA project is about making it easier for you to get active if that’s what you want to do. We think there are too many barriers in the way which is why we’re working together to break them down 🙂 You might be interested in reading Caroline’s blog for a different perspective –

  2. I think that you have to remember that the word disability covers a wide range of conditions. many disabled people would love to be able to take even a short walk, but cannot because of pain.
    My husband has severe rheumatoid arthritis. For the past 20 years joint replacements, biologic drugs rehabilitation programs and specialised pain control have enabled him to walk short distances. However crumbling lumbar vertebrae are now causing persistent sciatica, he would love to be able to walk, and I agree if you can do it exercise is excellent, but not everyone is actually able to do it. And before it is suggested, yes he has tried swimming.

    1. Hi Lizz
      You bring up some really important points about being active and how it is not always for everyone. We agree that actually people should be able to be active in whatever way is best for them (however small the movement) and currently the sport sector is working on better approaches to working with people with a range of health conditions and impairments. Part of our work on GYA is to let the sport sector and health and social care know that being active can be for everyone if these sectors allow themselves to think differently about what this means. We have a campaign call #whatsyourpb which is about finding out what people feel is their personal best…this could be anything from taking part in a Zumba class to holding a ball for the first time.

      And yes swimming comes up as one of the most beneficial activities yet it can be really hard to find a good pool near where you live which has all of the accessibility features included. Thank you for your feedback, I think many people will be feeling the same as yourself and your husband.

  3. a few years ago I used to be reasonably fit ex forces with 16 years behind me and a rugby player for my local team, suffering the normal aches and pains but was medically discharged due to epilepsy , then had a major heart attack followed by angina, central sleep apnoea , asthma all in my early and mid 40s then started training to become a nurse started feeling sore in my joints then was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and most recently skin cancer which has been cut out and I am now clear. so now and again I find walking painful and my hands tighten up in pain for no reason. I would love the freedom to get out on a walk without waiting for the pain.

  4. Get active? I think to be active I’d have to be able to get myself and my scooter and wheelchair out of the house first.
    I’d need a care package to give me the assistance to do things.
    I need a disabled facilities grant.
    I’m pretty certain I wont get them.
    So before we talk about getting active, can we address the barriers that prevent us getting active in a real way, and start campaigning much harder for local authorities to get ring-fenced funding to remove the very basic barriers?
    We are in a cage, inside another cage. Barrier after barrier like a Russian doll. We need the basics first – lets be as one voice in this.

  5. If you have MS all the stuff about long walks in nature doing wonders for your mental health should carry trigger warnings as it can make you very dispirited, my nearest leasure centre is 26 mile round trip but I do seated Pilates I’m not eligible for a PB as I am not critical care

  6. Iam in a power assisted wheelchair, i have tried to get exercises every where, the gym centre where i live looks like i might be able to do something.
    I have been VERY low and not able to do anything, you have to be very determined. and climb the hill.
    I have now joined a group so hopefully it will help to inprove things. in the area where i live.

  7. If you try to improve your pain levels by using simple exercises to prevent further deterioration of your muscles and tendons, such as the ones my pain clinic health referral team prescribed, then a disabled person stands to be accused of being a fraud, lose all benefits such as PIP and ESA , lose their Motability car and be left housebound and in absolute poverty at risk of homelessness. A walk in the park? I wish…

  8. Up until 3 years ago, I was a very active person as I had just lost half a stone through joining a fitness club. I was hoping this would continue then I was admitted to a&e for an emergency laparotomy and awoke from the anesthetic to find that I had 23 staples holding my tummy together and a “bag” that was collecting my “bowel contents” as my Intestines had started to leak and Infect my bowel. As a result, I had a large section of my Intestines removed and therefore the “bag” was now my “bottom outlet”. My fitness Is now a thing of the past as I was in the hdu and hospital for a total of 10 days and If I had not been admitted that day, they said I would not have been alive the following day. I now suffer breathlessness, pain In my joints, constant pain where the section of my “gut” was removed, stress, due to the result of my condition, unable to work at moment so unemployed, and as a result, my previous employer Is not able to compensate for my condition, unable to walk, unless using two walking sticks as I suffer from dizzy spells now and I cannot walk more than 10 meters before I start to get pain and weakness In my knees, I cannot stand for more than 2 minutes as I suffer from hyperventilation which also results In me becoming faint and therefore likely to pass out. My mental health has truly suffered and I am now waiting to be referred to mental health due to being highly irritated, and angry, as well as having suicidal thoughts.

    All as a result of my condition which will be a long term condition. This mentally “kicked – in” about six months ago when I wanted to end it all while waiting for a train on my way to work, so far i have fought to carry out my wish but it is and always will be there trying to tempt me and therefore I am at my wits end, because when I was assessed for my PIP and for a blue badge, they only give me 4 points for my mobility but 8 points for living even when I have someone helping me and they said I was not disabled enough for a blue badge as I could get up 3 steps with a stick. I can no longer do stairs now without suffering incredible pain in my knees which result in weakness as well as my hip joints and my lower back. I do not sleep like I used to as I have to get up several times a night to go to “toilet” as well as take pain relief and I now have a hernia which recently caused me to spend a week in hospital after being admitted to a&e as a result of not being able to pass a bowel motion. I was told by the doctor at the hospital, “it will settle down eventually” but this only resolved 3 days ago. I am now on the emergency list for my hernia repair to be carried out on 12th October 2016, which I hope will ease some of my problems, but i doubt it?

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