Making Light Work of New Approach to Health; Health Reporter HELEN RAE Takes a Look at an NHS Scheme That Is Helping People to Make Healthy Lifestyle Changes

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN RAE

AN innovative lifestyle intervention programme in Tyneside is helping residents improve their health.

'Lighten Up' is a 12week weight management scheme that focuses on helping people change their attitude and behaviour towards their health as well as encouraging physical activity and a healthy diet.

The programme has been running for just over a year as part of North Tyneside Primary Care Trust's adult weight management strategy, and has been hugely successful at helping people make lasting changes to their approach to diet and exercise.

Having lost more than 13 lbs in just 12 weeks, recent course participant Joyce Brookes, 65, is enthusiastic about the benefits of the programme which is run in conjunction with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Joyce, who lives in Wallsend, said: "I've really enjoyed taking part in the Lighten Up scheme. It's helped me change my whole outlook towards my health.

"Before the programme I didn't devote any time to exercise or my health generally. "But now I absolutely love walking and going to gym classes and I have a much better understanding of the relationship between my emotional wellbeing and my physical health."

Retired grandmother-ofthree Joyce got involved in the Lighten Up scheme after a chance invitation to participate in a national health research programme showed she had above average levels of cholesterol in her blood and high blood pressure.

Joyce said: "Some of the tests I did as part of the research project showed that I had potentially dangerous levels of cholesterol in my blood so they referred me back to my GP.

"I saw a practice nurse at my GP surgery and she told me about the Lighten Up programme and offered me a place."

Along with 11 other participants ranging in age and gender, Joyce attended the two-hour classes once a week for 12 weeks. During the first hour of the sessions the group look at diet and nutrition with a qualified dietician.

Having tried other weight loss schemes in the past, Joyce is convinced the educational aspects of the programme have been as important as the exercise sessions in bringing about lasting changes towards her own diet and exercise.

Joyce said: "I've been on lots of other diets but this was completely different. With Lighten Up things just seemed to click into place.

"Through the programme we were given the tools to take more responsibility for our own health. The dietician we had at our sessions was just fantastic and I came away from the sessions really empowered to take control of my health. …

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