Fitting physical activity into the festive period: Join ‘Active Advent’ with The Chorley Surgery

Date posted: 13th December 2021

Staff at The Chorley Surgery have launched the seasonal phase of their wellbeing initiative which seeks to keep people moving when at work, boost colleague morale and celebrate the Christmas period - now they are encouraging fellow practices and patients to do the same.

Since 2019 the practice, based on Gillibrand Street in Chorley, has teamed up with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) to take part in the Active Practice Charter, joining a network of hundreds of ‘Active Practices’ nationally. The Active Practice Charter inspires and celebrates GP practices that are taking steps to increase activity in their staff and patients by raising awareness of the simple changes that can be made to improve physical and mental wellbeing.

As part of the drive, The Chorley Surgery has committed to the aim of reducing sedentary behaviours during work hours in December, which include sitting for prolonged periods of time. The surgery’s workforce intends to lead by example as it is reported that one in four people say they would be more active if it was recommended by a GP or nurse. Research also suggests peoples’ risk of developing some health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and high blood pressure, increases if they have a sedentary lifestyle.

From collectively counting colleagues’ steps or squatting whilst waiting for the kettle to boil to something a little more adventurous like lunch-time yoga or cycling to work, the message from the practice is simple: it doesn’t matter what you do as long as you get moving, and The Chorley Surgery team are determined to demonstrate that movement really is the best medicine.

The challenge is also a great way to positively embed physical activity into your every day ahead of New Year’s resolutions.

On the inspiration behind the initiative, Dr Hamish Grant, GP and Active Advent Lead, said: “I was keen to organise something that would hopefully inspire those working in primary care to find ways to fit more movement into their working days.

“I wanted to share this as a fun, feel-good way to bring some positivity into a time that can traditionally be pretty busy in the NHS.”

Speaking on the importance of Active Advent, Andrea Trafford, Business Manager, said: “Being part of ‘Active Advent’ is really important to us as a GP Practice.  We really value the wellbeing of our staff, from providing a supportive and inclusive environment to work in to engaging in fun activities to help with their physical and mental wellbeing.

“The partners at The Chorley Surgery encourage staff to come up with innovative ideas of how we can improve not only our environment, but the high standards of care for our patients and our communities.  I am so proud to work with such a hard-working and dedicated team. They really are ‘Outstanding’.

"Active Advent rounds up what has been another challenging year in primary care, however by undertaking these fun and engaging challenges, we can finish 2021 off on a positive note.”

Staff members at the surgery have committed to taking part in Active Advent in ways that fit into their daily lives:

Lauren Walmsley, Receptionist, said: “For Active Advent, I have committed to a one-hour walk each evening. It’s nice to be involved in something as a team and really promotes positive group-working.”

Kirsty Hughes and Alison Martin, Medical Secretaries, have turned to music to help maintain their motivation during Active Advent. Kirsty said: “We love taking part in Active Advent because it strengthens the social dynamics amongst the staff and gets everybody talking. We’ve chosen to dance for the entirety of Mariah Carey’s ‘All I want for Christmas is you’ each time it’s played on the radio - inspired by Strictly Come Dancing!”

Andrea Kershaw, Operational Manager, is also playing her part by continuing to pursue her love of cycling: “I cycle four one-hundred-mile bike rides per year in the Ribble Valley area and wanted to incorporate this into my Active Advent - it’s a great way for the staff to have a laugh together and stay motivated.” 

Michelle Brisco, Practice Manager, describes: “Working in a busy NHS practice, it can be very easy for us all to forget about our own wellbeing. 

“Taking part in the Active Advent inspires the team to keep moving and encourages us all to take those well needed breaks away from our desks.  It’s good fun, challenging and a great way for the team to keep fit together.”

As the days grow darker and the nights grow colder, many of us may find it harder to maintain the motivation to exercise in winter- and it’s not just our physical health which is affected but our mental health too.

Studies show that doing physical activity can improve mental health and, in a year like no other with primary care facing unprecedented pressures, adapting to news ways of working and continuing to support the ongoing Coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination programme, it’s important now more than ever.

2/3 GPs say experiences of abuse, threatening behaviour or violence have worsened since March 2020.

In an attempt to combat the recent challenges faced by staff, the practice remains firmly committed to their staff wellbeing agenda with a dedicated ‘wellbeing board’ which includes staff shoutouts, words of inspiration and signposting to further help and support alongside a staff book club and brightly decorated, newly renovated staff spaces including a modernised kitchen, toilet facilitates and plans for a revamped outside area complete with picnic benches.

Looking for ideas to get involved with #ActiveAdvent?

You can head to the dedicated Instagram account which has been established featuring daily suggestions, tips and tricks from healthcare professionals across the country.

You can find the account at: @AdventActive

You can also head to the NHS Better Health website. Better Health has lots of free tools and support to help you get active, because healthier lifestyles start with little changes.

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