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North West leisure trusts implement new approach to inactivity

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Life Leisure's actilife health programme has been adopted by two North West leisure trusts planning to tackle the issue of inactivity in the community.

The model, devised and implemented by the Stockport-based social enterprise, combines wearable technology (fitness trackers), an online interactive platform and remote coaching, to help people become more active and better manage their weight.

The scheme has been adopted by trusts Inspiring healthy lifestyles and Everybody Sport and Recreation, which deliver sport, fitness and community wellbeing programmes for Wigan Council and Cheshire East Council respectively.

 actilife is designed to help all people but particularly those taking part in less than 30 minutes of activity a week who may struggle to access, or be intimidated by, attending regular fitness sessions.

 Participants use a fitness tracker to record their Physical activity throughout the day which then syncs with an online portal that enables participants to monitor their progress. An actilife coach can access results via the online platform and provide tailored advice and support.

 An initial three-month pilot project with 400 Stockport residents – 61 per cent of whom were categorised as completely inactive – has seen 85 per cent of users report an increase in their activity levels. Over two-thirds changed their habits and took part in 30 minutes of ‘moderate physical activity’ at least three times a week.

 These results prompted Inspiring healthy lifestyles and Everybody Sport and Recreation to implement the programme.

 Rob Mentha, wellbeing co-ordinator at Inspiring healthy lifestyles, said: “We were already working with public health in Wigan Council to explore ways to address inactivity when we came across actilife and saw how well it was working in Stockport. It seemed a great fit for our objectives.”

 Having trialled actilife with local health professionals - to familiarise them with the scheme and help develop ‘Physical Activity Champions’ within their area - the programme is being launched to the public as an addition to the trust’s activity referral scheme.

 Branded ARS+, with the tagline ‘every move matters’, the model will be promoted through existing Inspiring healthy lifestyle programmes, health professionals and other health partners across Wigan and Leigh.

 Everybody Sport and Recreation has adopted actilife as part of its strategy to get more people in Cheshire East active.

 Donna Williamson, health and wellbeing manager at Everybody Sport and Recreation, said: “Like Life Leisure, we have recognised that technology could and should play an important role in changing people’s lives through increased activity. As a trust focused on best practice we also recognise that not everyone can, or wants to, take part in sessions at leisure centres or sports clubs.

 “It’s our duty to seek out solutions that accommodate these needs and make healthy living as accessible as possible. That’s why we think actilife will work really well as part of our delivery strategy.”

 Staff at Everybody Sport and Recreation have taken part in a series of fitness challenges using the actilife portal before officially launching the service as a series of 12-week schemes.

 actilife will be promoted through the trust’s programmes, including cardiac health, adult and child weight management, and Active Lives exercise referral scheme – the latter specifically aimed at those who lead inactive lives but want to make a change.

 Williamson said: “We’re also going to work with local businesses to promote actilife to workforces, and have even created ‘sync hubs’ in some of our leisure centres so if people don’t have smart devices, they can simply walk past with their fitness tracker and their data will be uploaded to the portal. We are very excited about taking this out to the people of Cheshire East.”

 Malcolm McPhail, Life Leisure chief executive officer, said: “Addressing inactivity is one of the most important and fundamental ways that the leisure industry can support communities and improve public health. We’ve seen how powerful actilife is as a tool for achieving that goal and so are thrilled to now be working with other organisations to share the approach. The next step for us is to really push to get actilife embedded and recognised as a health intervention, and we’re working with local NHS services to help make that happen.”

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Life Leisure's actilife health programme has been adopted by two North West leisure trusts planning to tackle the issue of inactivity in the community.
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