News - Tags: Active Communities

Tags: Active Communities

Why we've signed up to RED January to move every day

Posted: Mon, 10 Jan 2022 14:57

Why we've signed up to RED January to move every day

It's dark, cold and pretty miserable outside, so it can be hard to get motivated when it comes to being active. But in these most challenging of times, moving more - however you do it - has never been more critically important. That's why our team at Active Oxfordshire is signing up to RED January, to move every day and keep the winter blues away.

Here's just a few of the reasons why we've decided to sign up:

Lucy Tappin: I'm taking part in RED January this year to raise awareness of mental health, support my own mental and physical wellbeing as well as raise money for a fantastic charity.

Being on the Active Oxfordshire RED January Team will help to highlight the relationship between sport, physical activity and mental wellbeing through family, friends, and throughout our collaborative work. It's great to have a positive and hopeful challenge to motivate us through the colder darker months and uncertain times.

I will be aiming to get back into a good running routine after completing the Couch to 5k last year. I will aim to go on family dog walks as much as I can and try to find new geocaches on the way I have also started a Free Beginner Yoga App on my phone. I have never really got on with Yoga but this is quick, easy to fit in and has daily reminders so I don't forget!

Bev: I signed up because I think daily exercising in January helps burn off the Christmas calories and helps your mental well being in what is otherwise a cold, grey month. To keep moving I will be out running hoping to achieve my annual 5K target, continuing to do my weekly personal training sessions at the gym and daily walking of my dog.

Steph: I am doing RED January because I want to practice what we preach which is to be physically active. I want to strengthen my body but also improve my mental wellbeing (and shed a few Christmas pounds whilst I'm at it!). My aim is to swim three times a week and walk/jog the other days.

Matt: I read this article from The Guardian, 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying | Life and style | The Guardian it's a fun list of little changes, that build up to a lot – by coincidence over the past year, I've actually started to do, and really value a number of these, and so I thought I should pick up a few others.

Straight away Number 1 on the list is "Exercise on a Monday night (nothing fun happens on a Monday night)," and there are a number of other ideas that have a hidden activity within them, including Number 7 "Plant spring bulbs, even if they're just in a pot." Something I plan to do with my daughter.

Natalie: I have signed up for Red January as I have a new puppy and have just moved into a new village in South Oxfordshire. Walking or running 5 miles a day will enable me to explore my new area of Cholsey as well as meeting some of the local people.

Josh: I've signed up to RED January to give a bit of a structure to keeping active this month and to make sure that I fit in some movement during lunch times. Getting out and moving over lunch time breaks up my day, and stops our dog, Ralph, getting too rowdy in the afternoons.

Rich: I decided to sign up for RED January not only to improve my physical and mental health, but to be part of an activity challenge with the rest of the Active Oxfordshire team, supporting each other to get out and move more. After a few months of over indulging and the extra cheese and mince pies over Christmas this challenge gives me the motivation to get back on track with my fitness and the many benefits to my health and wellbeing for everyday life.

My plan for RED January is to keep my exercise varied…going out for a run, sessions at the gym, football matches and fun family walks in the countryside. The variety helps to keep me motivated and I'm sure I will joined by my children on the occasional run to keep me company.

You can find out more about RED January and get started here:

Tags: Active, Active Body Healthy Mind, Active Communities

Active Ambassador Pat Kennedy on why Health Walks are more vital than ever

Posted: Fri, 26 Nov 2021 11:40

Active Ambassador Pat Kennedy on why Health Walks are more vital than ever

Why Health Walks are more vitally important than ever: Pat Kennedy, Health Walk Leader and Active Ambassador

Active Ambassador Pat Kennedy has been running Health Walks for over 10 years. In this new blog, Pat reflects on the critical importance of walking for both our physical and mental health.

Every Wednesday I lead a group of six walkers, or so, in South Oxford. We have a regular pattern of walks which include parks and riverside walks along the Thames and local lakes. The walks are usually about two miles in length; we always finish with refreshments and a chat.

I trained as a Health Walk Leader in 2010. The emphasis of the training at that time was that a walk would be particularly beneficial if the walkers raised their heart rate and became a little breathless during the walk. That stressed the physical impact of walking to improve our health - at the time, there was little discussion about the psychological aspect of this group activity.

Interestingly, research since then has placed a different emphasis on the value of walking. Research papers suggest that being in the open air, especially with views of trees and green spaces has the effect of lowering blood pressure. The sight of running water also has a beneficial calming effect. Research also suggests that being mindful and aware of nature during a walk is good, as worrying thoughts are then suppressed which increases the health benefits of walking.

South Oxford Health Walks

The walks in South Oxford encompass many of these features so that we are able to enjoy a variety of trees and wildlife. During our walks, we have seen a fox, muntjac deer, cormorants, a jay, a kingfisher, herons and, last week, a gaggle of geese.

The pandemic and resultant social isolation has made us all more aware of the importance of regular social contact. Walkers look forward to the regular walks and chats during them. We also join together after the walk for refreshments for half an hour. Conversations are wide- ranging and we have enjoyed anecdotes about holidays, childhood and exchanged views about exhibitions and places of interest.

Health Walks take place across the city and some walkers from the Hinksey Park group regularly join the other walks. For example, the Bury Knowle walk which take place on Fridays and the city centre walk which meets outside John Lewis on Tuesdays.

Get Involved

New walkers are always welcome - you can find out more details about the walks here: Oxford City Health Walks

Pat Kennedy

Health Walk Leader, Hinksey Park

November 2021

Tags: Active Body Healthy Mind, Active Communities

Ways to Wellness: Creating Opportunities

Posted: Mon, 05 Jul 2021 15:38

Ways to Wellness: Creating Opportunities

Anita Powell, Volunteering & Community Coordinator at Style Acre shares their success of refreshing their Ways to Wellness programme with the introduction of Ways to Wellness Stars:

At Style Acre, we are in the business of caring, and we really care about the physical and mental health of every person we support, and all our employees and volunteers.

We support 280 adults with learning disabilities and autism in Oxfordshire. The past year has been especially tough for many people within our community, with isolation and changes to routine having a big effect on general health and happiness.

Our staff responded amazingly to lockdown after lockdown, coming up with a range of creative ideas to help people to stay connected, safe, and healthy. We knew that we needed to build on this to keep the momentum going and establish an ongoing focus on health and happiness, and decided that our Ways to Wellness programme, which started in 2018, needed a refresh and a boost. We successfully fundraised to enable us to do so.

Ways to Wellness Stars

Creating opportunities and involving the people we support in decision-making is absolutely key in everything we do at Style Acre.

We have so many inspiring people within our community, and we wanted to find a way to celebrate individuals' achievements and give people a role in shaping the programme. Our Ways to Wellness Stars were born!

The group (of 25+) meets monthly via Zoom. Each month we share stories and ideas, the group is asked their opinion on a few key points (with voting that is accessible to everyone regardless of communication needs), and everyone puts forward activity ideas for the following month's Activity Pack. We have green-fingered Stars who love to grow, Stars who walk, run, dance and cycle (not all at the same time!), culinary Stars who create delicious healthy meals, creative Stars who astound us with their art, and everything in between! You can read one of our Stars, Jessica's inspiring story here.

Grow, Move, Nourish and Connect

We have four Ways to Wellness categories, which all our activities fit into. These are simple to understand, and each has a colour and symbol to identify it too.

Grow is about learning skills to develop as a person, and enjoying therapeutic hobbies.
Move is about getting active through sports, dance and other activities.
Nourish is about caring for yourself and enjoying the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.
Connect is about reaching out, giving back, and working together to build and maintain relationships.

These were put together with reference to the Five Ways to Wellbeing, adapted to engage with our specific community. We created a fun and accessible quiz to help people decide which category they most identify with and where they might like to do more.

Projects in Progress!

In addition to the general Ways to Wellness programme (with monthly themes, activity packs, zoom events, Stars meetings, and lots of sharing of photos on our internal comms platform), we are also working on various sub-projects, a few of them include:

  • A Wellness Journal which we have designed and is being printed and given to all of our staff, volunteers and people we support
  • Wild Acre – a project all about connecting with nature through looking after wildlife in your own garden/neighbourhood
  • Project Carrot – all our houses and hubs have veg trugs, and we run competitions, provide info etc. to help people grow and eat their own produce
  • Buddies – we have a growing number of volunteer buddies who have formed friendships with people we support via Zoom with a focus on wellness. Some people we support are also becoming buddies to young people through the KEEN buddying programme, which is very exciting!
  • Mental Health First Aid Training – we will be training as many staff as possible as Mental Health First Aiders

More of our projects can be found here.

As restrictions ease, and our community cautiously begins to be able to do a little more, we are looking forward to helping each and every person we support to find what makes them feel happy and healthy – and then do more of it!

Tags: Active Communities