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The Isle of Wight Council has secured around £31,000 of funding from Sport England and the British Lung Foundation to support Islanders living with lung disease, to improve their fitness.

The national ‘Keep Active, Keep Well’ pilot scheme is the first of its kind and aims to improve the quality of life and wellbeing of up to 300 local people living with lung disease on the Island, through specialist exercise, advice and guidance, by December 2017.

There are 12,312 people on the Isle of Wight known to be living with lung disease, for example: lung cancer, asthma, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and emphysema. The scheme is available to anyone over the age of 18 living with lung disease. Individuals can refer themselves to the programme or be referred by a health professional.

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The pilot scheme will be supported by expert trainer, Andy Savage who will work through the respiratory centre at St Mary’s hospital. Andy is a Chronic Respiratory Exercise Specialist and is already involved with the existing ‘breathe easy’ group for lung disease sufferers. The programme will consist of 12, 2-hour sessions (over the course of 12 weeks); starting in February.

The initial session will be a 6-minute ‘walk test’, to assess the distance the client is able to cover within 6 minutes. This will then be used as a marker for the next time they take the test, to assess any improvement in levels of fitness through the programme. Subsequent sessions will include advice and support from a variety of other professionals, alongside other activities.

Sessions will take place across the Island at West Wight Sports Centre, Wight Fit and the Respiratory gym at the hospital.

Dr Rida Elkheir, director of public health, said:

“Staying fit and healthy can be difficult for any of us, but more so when people are living with a long-term health condition. That’s why this funding is really important, because it gives local people the opportunity to receive targeted support, guidance, advice and activity to support their lifestyle and their ambitions to improve their fitness; and ultimately their wellbeing and quality of life.”

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Chronic Respiratory Exercise Specialist, Andy Savage, said:

“Many people living with a chronic lung condition want to improve their fitness levels, but due to increased breathlessness, they worry and become anxious about undertaking an exercise regime. They often find gyms and classes intimidating, and can feel embarrassed that they cannot keep up with the other participants. Studies have shown that inactivity leads to increased anxiety and depression.

“For over six years I have worked with participants living with a respiratory condition and helped them to improve their fitness, regain their confidence, reduce anxiety and ultimately improve their quality of life as part of the British Lung Foundation BLF Active program. This new ‘Keep Active Keep Well’ course will help to encourage participants to overcome their fears and barriers to exercise. It will help them to understand how keeping active will ultimately have a positive effect on living and managing their lung condition and help to signpost them to trying new activities and ways to increase their daily activity levels.”

Contact Cindy Dickson on 01983 821000 (ext 8919) or [email protected] for more information.

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