The Let’s Get Moving wellbeing programme on offer in doctor’s surgeries across Essex has been using golf as a new way to help patients lead a healthy, more active lifestyle.
Community Exercise Professional Victoria Mottershead recently introduced her group from Oaklands Surgery, on Canvey Island, to a six-week Get into golf course. Participants are also taking part in outdoor walking groups, gym sessions, swimming, cycling and walking netball.
The course was run at Garon Park, Southend-on-Sea by PGA professional Ben Jones for a group of 12 of the participants - men and women all aged 50-plus.
It’s been so successful that several of the group no longer need diabetic medication because their health has improved as a result of becoming more active and losing some weight.
These include Albert Clarke who enrolled in the group after being told by his doctor he would need to take insulin to manage his Type 2 diabetes. “I really didn’t want to get to that point, so I asked the doctor to give me a few months to sort myself out,” he says.
After joining the Let’s Get Moving project Albert is now more active and healthier and enjoys all the activities, including golf. “After taking part in the programme, my blood sugar levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels have gone down – and what’s more I now don’t have to use insulin.”
Victoria says the group has gone from strength to strength and golf has fitted well into the mix of fitness activities. “Initially the women in the group were very reticent when I suggested trying golf,” she says. “They said ‘I can’t play golf’ so I encouraged them to come along to the first session and just watch – or take part if they wanted to. Now they love it and have completely changed their mind.”
“Once they had turned up and seen that golf isn’t scary after all and that everybody can take part, they all had a go and really enjoyed it.”
“Indeed, the one who was most reluctant and just came to accompany her partner has now bought a second-hand set of golf clubs she loved the game so much.”
The group started in April 2016 and six months later three of the 12 people in the group could stop taking diabetic medication because their health has improved. Others have also gained a new-found confidence that has dramatically improved their wellbeing.
All the participants in the group have conditions that may be improved by becoming more active, including diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Steve and Hilary Chaplin are also part of the programme and have really enjoyed learning golf. “Ten of us went the other day and we didn’t stop laughing from start to finish. We’ve met up socially as well and Hilary and I have made some really good friends.”
Steve and his wife also go to the gym twice a week, and both are getting fitter by the week. Steve has diabetes and has lost more than a stone in weight. He is hoping that his GP will say he can stop taking medication when he has his next check-up.
Hilary has been surprised by how good a form of exercise golf is – and how many different muscles you use. “Ben the golf professional has made it fun by creating games that cause a lot of laughter and friendly rivalry,” she says.
Victoria says: “Golf is a great option because it’s something participants can do together whatever their age or ability. They can also continue playing together once the initial course is finished and something they can add into their mix of activities to get them moving more,” she says.
Everybody has commented that they enjoy the social element of golf. “In between being active and learning a new skill, the group get to chat too. Golf can be a great way of meeting new people and friendships continue to bond after the sessions have finished over refreshments in the club house,”
We’re planning a follow-on course next year which everybody has signed up for and a new beginners course in March thanks to the support from England Golf.”
If you would like to get moving with golf, find a beginner activity near you