I did a slight double take. Shelley* had just walked into my clinic and announced that she had been talking in the waiting room to Annette* (my next patient) and they had decided to start going to the gym together as neither of them had anyone to go with. Wow! I thought as I filled out the Live Active forms, not only does this prove the benefits of running late all the time, but maybe, just occasionally, ears are not all made of cloth. Of course we’ll have to see how long the enthusiasm lasts. Getting us all up off our backsides is like trying to shift a huge weight, literally as well as metaphorically. But that is exactly what our practice is trying to do. As part of the Links Worker Programme, for the past six months we have set about turning ourselves into a stuck record with one message- Move It!
I am not sure if charity begins at home, but health promotion certainly does. One of our first steps was to start a Yoga class for all the practice team once a week in the waiting room. Our lovely teacher from Yogability has taught us to be warriors, sphynxes, baby cobras, half pigeons and many other creatures that we don’t even dare to imagine. The only thing louder than the clattering chairs as we put them back out after the class are our creaking joints as we walk back to our rooms. But the benefits have been immediate. “Come and see me on Thursday afternoons” said one GP, “you have a chance I might be nice to you” (we think she was joking). One receptionist said: “I felt calmer, more energized and it sparked something in me that told me I could take control of myself and up to me to alter the things in my life that I did not like… I have now lost 3 stone”. You can read her full account on our website at bit.ly/1hHC7L6. Yogability is a charity who run classes for disabled children, carers and adults in our local area. So the sessions we buy from them are helping to fund the very classes that we are now encouraging our patients to go along to.
Inspired by our yoga success, and also by a visit to Drumchapel by Judy Murray, we decided it was time to hold an end of term practice sports day. Sadly the weather meant we had to hold our picnic indoors. But then what a sight we made for the entertainment of the locals, not only puffing around the Drumchapel Tennis Club courts, but scampering all over the Drum on a treasure hunt, meeting the local heroes whose daily job it is to help people get moving. You can read all about it on our website at bit.ly/1NJfcuV, along with more about how we are trying to Feel Good and Get Active.
Of course doctors, nurses, receptionists and waiting room posters encouraging everyone to get moving isn’t enough. There are big barriers, whether life stresses, financial worries, other health problems, fear and embarrassment or just good old laziness. But if two people who get talking in a GP waiting room can start helping each other to overcome some of these barriers, maybe it is more possible than we think.
Dr Peter Cawston
* names altered