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Getting active on National Fitness Day in Wandsworth

This year National Fitness Day falls on Wednesday 27 September and the organisers are encouraging the nation to celebrate the fun of fitness and physical activity across the UK. To mark the Day, this week Get Out Get Active (GOGA) is highlighting some of the fantastic fitness sessions taking place all year-round in different locations.

Participants in Sporting Memories WandsworthIn 2011, énergie Group, the largest and fastest growing fitness franchise company in the UK, founded National Fitness Day. The company then gifted National Fitness Day to ukactive in 2014. The aim is to establish National Fitness Day as the most active day of the year.

We know the benefits of regular exercise includes a healthier heart, increased wellbeing, and a better quality of life. However, many of us find it a struggle. Research shows that if you exercise in company, you are more likely to stick at it. The social atmosphere creates a positive environment that is important in helping us to have fun. This is at the heart of GOGA’s work- fun and inclusion.

Funded by Spirit of 2012, GOGA is an exciting programme that supports disabled and non‑disabled people to take part in fun and inclusive activities together. It aims to make activity more appealing for everyone. Working in 18 different areas across the UK, partners are delivering over 30,000 sessions over three years. One of those locations is Wandsworth and their team has set up Sporting Memories sessions. Here, we talk to Emma, Sport and Physical Activity Officer for Enable Leisure and Culture about the benefits of regular fitness opportunities that are accessible at a local level.

Sporting Memories sessions

Sporting Memories began after working with the officers at Wandsworth Council Sheltered Housing Schemes. We noticed there was a lack of sport and physical activity sessions in the sheltered housing community centre. This meant higher levels of inactivity and social isolation for the residents. In addition, the residents had been asking for more activities to get involved in.

The sessions are a mix of reminiscence therapy and mild physical activity. Initially, we decided to promote the social aspects of the Sporting Memories sessions in order to try and reach inactive people. They take place on Thursday every week at the Manresa Clubroom in Roehampton between 11am-12.30pm. We have a trained sporting memories facilitator (from Fulham Football Club Foundation) leading the activities and a multi-skills coach, with specialism in delivering activity to elderly people.

As the Sheltered Housing Officers have access to the residents, they have been able to promote the sessions on their visits. We have also distributed posters and flyers in the community clubroom.

The residents are aged between 58-90 years old and are new to keeping fit. There is a mixture of disabled and non-disabled people too.

Feedback has been extremely positive and the residents value the opportunity to talk about old times and try sports that they have not taken part in for many years! They enjoy the social side of the session, getting out of the house and meeting other elderly people from the area.

A woman talking at the Sporting Memories Wandsworth sessionAmong the benefits, we have seen an increase in residents’ social interaction and integration, higher levels of activity and fitness as well as improved mental wellbeing.

We’re proud to be involved in the GOGA programme, providing opportunities for people to participate in exercise together in a comfortable inclusive atmosphere. We hope to make a positive impact in the local area and encourage more sessions like this for years to come.

Developing a regular activity habit is vital for everyone’s physical and mental wellbeing. It supports important health and social benefits. So my message on National Fitness Day is for people to include activity in their everyday lives- and make it fun and enjoyable! The more activity you do- the better and every bit helps!

Find out how you can get involved in the Get Out Get Active programme here.