‘’Thank you doctor- that’s the best thing you have ever advised me to do.”

That sums up people’s reaction after joining The Reach for Health Centre, (RfH), and experiencing the support that patients with a whole range of physical, emotional and psychological conditions receive within this rehabilitative centre.

I am a local GP and the Medical Director of the local Clinical Commissioning Group, which organises and pays for health care. I firmly believe in the physical, psychological and social benefits of exercise.

I first met the team at RfH six years ago after a pub conversation backfired and resulted in me entering a sponsored cycle ride from Lands End to John O’Groats. For the ride to be meaningful, I decided to support an exercise-based charity. It was at this point that I discovered that RfH is categorically not just a gym – it is so much more than that. The first time I visited The Reach for Health Centre, I was met by a group of more mature clients, who, while they were exercising, were also putting the world to rights and laughing a lot. Clearly they were adding life to their years and having a great time. The atmosphere of positivity was infective and certainly kept me going up some of those Scottish hills.

Being able to refer patients to The Reach for Health Centre is invaluable for the whole range of people that I see. Young and old, sad, injured or having a long term health condition; everybody benefits from the tailored program that they develop with the team. The goals that are set are suitable to their condition and particular circumstances and the greatest encouragement that they get is from other members. The smile on the face and change in attitude of the sceptics who come back to the surgery after a couple of sessions is inspiring.

Undoubtedly, exercise and rehabilitation are an essential part of a high quality pathway of care for people with any chronic condition. Evidence has shown that helping somebody to be more active reduces their risk of developing diabetes and helps people in their recovery from an episode of depression. Keeping older people active helps prevent falls, improves breathlessness and promotes independence – especially after an illness.  Unfortunately, the pressure on the NHS means that rehabilitation and exercise are at the back of the queue when it comes to available resources. This serves to further underline the need for The Reach for Health Centre to continue to provide their outstanding expertise for those in our community that are in need of it.

I am a passionate believer in the benefits of exercise – getting people active, engaged and energised is the key to a healthy and motivated population. It is the antidote to our unhealthy lifestyles where we spend long hours in front of our televisions or computer screens.

 During late Summer 2020 The Reach for Health Centre will be moving into a much bigger, purpose-designed building where they will be able to build on the fabulous work that has been achieved by the team so far. More people will have the opportunity to enhance, and in many cases, rebuild their lives. We are lucky to have this unique Charity working so hard for people in need in our local community.