Humans are designed to move but, in the modern world, it’s very easy to be sat down for long periods of time.
It’s something Manchester’s Urban Village Medical Practice is changing for their patients and staff by creating opportunities to embed more movement in the day.
Urban Village Medical Practice is an Active Practice which involves taking dedicated steps to reduce sedentary behaviour and increase movement in patients and staff to improve physical and mental health.
There are a growing number of Active Practices across Greater Manchester, and each one will do this differently in a way that works for their staff and community.
“It gets us out, we can be sat at our desks from 7am to 7pm without really moving. Getting out the building into the fresh air for an hour is great, and hugely beneficial for staff wellbeing,” Dr Greenlaw, GP.
How does Walk Talk Walk work?
At Urban Village Medical Practice, recently voted GP Team of the Year, their monthly ‘Walk Talk Walks’ invites patients, staff, and local residents to come and chat about a theme or health condition whilst enjoying a gentle walk around the nearby marina.
The walks are designed to get health information to patients in a different, more creative way, and reduce the likelihood of patients coming to the practice for minor ailments or queries.
This frees up staff capacity and reduces wait times.
For many, the walks are a fantastic opportunity to be out with a group of people who share similar experiences. For others, it might be the only occasions they leave the house or office and get outside.
“For me it’s a winner as it touches on every part of the practice. Staff are aware the walks are happening, and it really lifts the mood for the afternoon,” Kay, Practice Manager.
What happened on the day?
The theme for December’s Walk Talk Walk was ‘When should I worry?’ and was aimed at parents of children under two years old. Ten parents and five children in prams attended with two GPs.
The group did a lap of the Ancoats marina at a slow and steady pace allowing everyone to get to know each other and ask general questions on the topic.
Upon returning to the practice, the group discussed the key themes that came up, such as nutrition, weaning, and fevers.
A second lap of the marina allowed further discussion, and movement, again providing a safe space for people to share their stories and experiences of raising a young child.
"It was great to see a different initiative that a GP Practice offers to connect with the community. It’s such a simple idea that has huge benefits for everyone” – Niamh Moore, GM Moving
Benefits of moving more to staff and patients
“Something we can’t measure is the effect things like this have on the wider community population health. But we do know that people come along to these walks, meet each other, and go away feeling more confident about managing their own health or knowing where to go,” Matt, Health Coach
“It was interesting to see how walking created a safe space for people to talk about often difficult topics. Walking beside each other creates a more comfortable environment to talk, as there are other sensory distractions and no head-on eye contact. This is important for removing any hierarchical barriers that can sometimes prevent people talking openly about health issues.” – Imogen Halls, GM Moving.
Prior to the training, many non-medical/community-facing staff didn't feel confident in discussing movement and physical activity within their work.
Across England, sports clubs and organisations are being supported by a new network of Sport Welfare Officers. They have been recruited by Active Partnerships and funded by Sport England through an investment of National Lottery money.