Photo of Harjinder

Following Macmillan’s Cancer Awareness Day on the 4th February, a new activity programme has launched in Basildon, Brentwood and Thurrock that will support over 200 cancer patients to live healthier, more active lifestyles.

The Active for Life programme, led by sporting charity Impulse Leisure, provides cancer patients with a range of positive activities to improve their fitness.

According to Macmillan, taking part in physical activity during or after being treated for Cancer can help reduce tiredness and treatment side effects, strengthen muscles and improve quality of life.

The programme, which was tested in Thurrock, has already supported over 48 patients to improve their activity levels. Four 12-week programmes, saw participants take part in twice-weekly sessions, including aerobics, gym sessions and regular light exercise.

Participants of the programme ranged from recently diagnosed patients to those in recovery stages, and were encouraged to increase their activity levels and benefit from a healthier more active lifestyle.

Fitness staff involved with the programme were upskilled with a Level 4 Cancer Rehabilitation qualification, which helped them develop a greater understanding of the disease and create personalised activity plans, adapted to suit the needs and abilities of each individual.

75% of patients involved in the programme moved from being inactive to fairly active, with others benefiting from the social element as well as improving their mental and emotional wellbeing.

Harjinder, aged 60 from Grays, was referred to the programme by her GP consultant following breast surgery, which left her with limited movement in both of her arms.

Since taking part in the sessions, she now attends the gym four times a week, and places a much greater importance on physical activity, as part of her daily routine.

She said, “Before being diagnosed with breast cancer, my busy lifestyle didn’t allow me the time to take part in much physical activity. Following surgery, the activity sessions have not just helped with movement, but have helped me feel stronger, both mentally and physically.

Following the successful impact of the pilot, sporting and health organisations across the county have come together to expand the programme. The twice-weekly sessions will now take place at four locations across Basildon, Brentwood and Thurrock, including; Club Kingswood, Impulse Leisure, Eversley Centre and The Brentwood Centre.

Gary Tapsell, Group & Health Fitness Manager, at Impulse Leisure, said: “The initial pilot had taught us a lot about the specific needs and abilities of the patients, as well as showing the positive impact the sessions were making.

It was clear to us that this programme needed to be more readily available across Greater Essex, and with the help of Active Essex and other community partners, we have been able to facilitate this.”

Active Essex, the county sports partnership for Greater Essex, was amongst one of the organisations involved, and supported the project by signposting funding opportunities to expand the programme.

Juliette Raison, Active Essex South West Essex relationship manager, and thematic lead for Core Market, said: “We’re very pleased to have supported the Active for Life project and to have helped signpost sufficient funding to get the programme running in Basildon and Brentwood.

“As part of our strategy to change one million lives by getting Essex active, it is important that physical activity and sport is accessible to everybody. These sessions are a perfect example of how physical activity can have such a positive impact to the lives of many.”

Cancer patients who are interested in taking part in the activity sessions, are advised to speak to their consultant, Clinical Nurse Specialist or GP for a referral to the service.

To find out more about the programme, visit https://impulseleisure.co.uk/.

You can find out more about Active Essex at www.activeessex.org.