Move More Aberdeen Gentle Movement gains momentum

mmaSaturday 28 February saw eight Move More Aberdeen volunteers complete the first ever Macmillan Gentle Movement training course in the city. The volunteers completed over 20 hours of training and dedicated many hours at home to develop their skills in this new movement and breathing activity. This ‘new’ therapeutic activity is not all new however, it has been derived from the ancient Chinese movements of Qi Gong and has great therapeutic potential for people affected by cancer; including improved psychological and mental wellbeing and reduced social isolation.

One of the volunteers commented on the training;

I’m enjoying the gentle movement training a lot. It’s clear the trainer is passionate, and he really believes in the benefits of gentle movement… I come out of the training feeling happier within myself to be honest…and I haven’t even started sharing the experience with service users yet.” 

The volunteers will have their first opportunities to share this experience described with service users in the coming weeks. Gentle Movement classes will be one of a menu of options available to people affected by cancer through the Move More Aberdeen programme. Also on offer are walking groups, circuit classes and soon gardening, all with the aim of helping people affected by cancer to ‘Get active and feel good’

Macmillan physical activity team Basketball trip

Last week, thanks to the generosity of the Active Manchester physical activity project, (supported by Macmillan and Sport England) three members of the physical activity team, various project leads, their friends and families, headed to the Copper Box arena at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to watch the Manchester Giants take on the London Lions. It was a great opportunity to talk all things physical activity whilst also getting to watch some fantastic basketball. Unfortunately the Giants lost narrowly to the Lions with 73 points to their 86. Both teams played extremely well, we are looking forward to meeting some of the players at the Active Manchester launch next week.

The Copper Box is the perfect venue to watch live sport including Basketball, Volleyball, Handball, Netball, Futsal, Cheerleading, Dance and Wheelchair Rugby. Tickets a relatively cheap to watch some great quality sport.

Interestic facts about the Copper Box arena: The facade is covered in 3,000 square meters of sustainably- sourced cooper, its namesake. Crucially, this affordable material does not suffer from atmospheric corrosion, will develop a patina as it ages, requires no cleaning or maintenance and can be recycled again in the future. For further sustainability, the Copper Box has 88 light-pipes incorporated into the roof that draw in natural daylight saving up to 40% on energy costs. It also has a rainwater harvesting system on the roof for use in waste management.

UCL Centre for Behaviour Change Conference 2015: Harnessing Digital Technology for Health Behaviour Change

Last month Justin Webb, (Macmillan Physical Activity Engagement Manager) attended the University College London Behaviour Change Conference ‘Harnessing Digital Technology for Health Behaviour Change’. At the event Justin presented a poster display on the development of a behaviour change intervention which provided perfect opportunity to share our work and ideas with academics and industry members from the digital health behavior change arena.

The unique conference brought together the science of behaviour change and eHealth expertise across disciplines to all those interested in developing and evaluating digital interventions and products. The Centre for Behaviour Change is a unique initiative, harnessing the breadth and depth of academic expertise in behaviour change at UCL to address key challenges facing society.

The conference included keynotes, symposia, round tables, rapid fire presentations, posters and networking events bringing cutting-edge evidence, theory and methods to business and developers of technology, policy makers and researchers.

Here is what Justin had to say about the event:

“The conference was very well attended with delegates from academia, the public, private and third sector organisations. Our poster presented the development of a behaviour change intervention to improve the delivery of very brief physical activity advice by nurses to people living with cancer. This intervention is based on theory and evidence. There seemed to be a real interest in our work with many people wanting more information. We are now testing the feasibility of this training intervention, which if successful, will be followed by a small pilot programme to fully test the efficacy of the intervention and its impact on the physical activity levels of people living with and beyond cancer.”

Justin & CBC PosterHere is the PDF of our impressive UCL CBC Conference Poster 

Macmillan Take a Stand for Workplace Health

We know that a growing number of people living with cancer are of working age, and over 70% of adults are employed and spend a large proportion of their time in the workplace. We also know that a healthy working environment can have a positive impact on health and help with long-term problems, such as cancer. So we’ve joined forces with Brunel University to take part in an exciting research study to understand more about how to develop a healthy working environment by implementing sit-stand workstations within the workplace, and evaluating their impact on physical activity and overall health levels.

Sit-stand workstations are height-adjustable desks, which can be moved up and down to allow you to sit or stand during the working day. These unconventional desks can be used to reduce prolonged sitting in the workplace. Office workers sit for over two thirds of the working day, which is linked to poor health outcomes, regardless of how active people are outside of work.

Thirty employees from Macmillan and Public Health England are taking part in the study and are being analysed at various time points to see how physically active they are. The study is made up of three different groups: one control group that continue to use their normal desk and two groups that receive a sit-stand workstation, one of which also receives additional support to use it.

This study is the first of its kind to look at the long-term effects of sit-stand workstations and is taking place over a period of 13 months. The study kicked off in October 2014 so we look forward to seeing the results at the end of 2015. The findings from this study could radically change understanding of health in the workplace and help us to better support people affected by cancer, so watch this space…

Top tips to reduce sedentary behaviour

seated exerciseWhen attempting to reduce the proportion of the day you spend sitting, it helps to have an estimate of what that is. Get Britain Standing has a sitting calculator which is a great place to start.

How much time sitting is too much? As of yet research has not provided a specific time frame as the figure would likely be influenced by individual factors such as age, health and current activity level. However, as general rule try not to remain seated for longer than 90 consecutive minutes. This may sound easier said than done, especially in an office environment so here are some helpful tips:

Active travel – incorporate light physical activity in your journey to work:

  • Cycle, walk or run to work if local.
  • Tax free bikes are available via cycle to work schemes.
  • Get off the bus one stop earlier & walk the rest of the journey.
  • Take the stairs at stations or walk up escalators.
  • Stand on the bus, train or tube.

Active working – incorporate light physical activity into your work tasks.

  • Stair climbing burns more calories than jogging or rowing (Teh and Aziz., 2002) and there is potential for more stair use throughout the working day. Climb the stairs to go in-between floors rather than waiting for the lift (often the quicker option), take the stairs in the morning or to and from your lunch break (Going down the stairs is still better than taking the lift).
  • Leave your desk for lunch (eat out, take packed lunch offsite or to a different floor)
  • Have standing or walking meetings where appropriate.
  • Stand at the back during presentations
  • Use standing desks such as this one. Or even create your own like this.
  • Leave your desk once every hour e.g. get a drink of water or print out documents
  • Stand or walk whilst on the phone.
  • Walk to a co-workers desk for a quick conversation rather than emailing/calling.
  • Perform seated exercise or stretches
  • Move your waste bin so you have to get up to use it.

Although the focus is on active in the workplace if you don’t already partake in much activity, pre/post work exercise is still good for you to start:

  • Lunchtime or post work exercise classes: exercise classes sometimes offer discounted rates during the lunch period for local company’s employees.
  • Lunchtime or post work team sports: gather li8ke minded colleagues for walks, runs, 5 a side football, rounders/cricket etc. around work hours.

Hopefully these suggestions are enough to get you moving more throughout the day, leading you away from a sedentary lifetsyle. Feel free to share ideas in the comments.


Sedentary behaviour: what’s the problem?

Sedentary behaviour of manOver the years the world of work has changed to represent cognitive employment in favor of careers requiring physical labor. Many of us spend a large proportion of our work day sitting down. We then travel home, sitting down or socialise (TV, theatre, drinks, dinner etc.) sitting down. Extended periods of sitting have become the norm.

So? What’s so bad about it?

According to Get Britain Standing, (a campaign aiming to raise awareness and educate against the dangers of sedentary working), when you sit the enzymes that help to break down fat (lipoprotein lipase) drop by 90% and sitting for an excess of 4 hours at work increases your risk of heart disease by 100%. Other health risks include a reduced metabolic rate, disrupted blood sugar levels, reduce insulin levels, increased hypertension (blood pressure) and decreased leg muscles use. More specifically sedentary behavior has been linked to an increased risk of heart/cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, muscle degeneration, back ache/neck pain, osteoporosis, depression* and dementia*

*Denotes suggestion of indirect association not a definitive relationship.

Don’t underestimate how important being active during your day really is. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has stated a lack of physical activity as one of the top four leading causes of preventable death worldwide, ahead of high cholesterol, alcohol and drug abuse.

This doesn’t apply to me does it?

For those of you reading this and thinking ‘I reach &/or exceed the recommended daily/weekly exercise/activity guidelines’ that’s great and you should continue to do so. However, research has suggested that remaining seated for too long is bad for your health, regardless of how much exercise you do outside of your time spent sitting down. For example if you walk or go to the gym for 30-45 minutes but remain seated the rest of the day your lifestyle would still be described as sedentary. The associated health risks of being sedentary are not exclusive to those who appear to be overweight or obese. A slim person who is very inactive also has a higher risk of the previously mentioned conditions.

“All-day movement is now seen as being just as important for the maintenance of good health as traditional exercise.” Professor Stuart Biddle (A leading Professor of Active Living & Public Health)

Thankfully there are numerous solutions available to us to reduce our sedentary behaviours. We have always been advocates of moving more so look out for our next post which will cover a comprehensive list of simple changes anyone can make to decrease time spent sitting down each day.