Exercise Provision

Specific Groups and Benefits of Exercise

Exercise Referral Process

The exercise referral process aims to guide individual's with certain conditions. It provides professional help in order to help the person manage or resolve their problem. Firstly, the individual visits the GP with their concern which can then be diagnosed or recorded, for example, someone with obesity might visit the doctor for professional help. Individuals with mental illness, musculoskeletal problems, a metabolic disorder or sedentary behaviour are the types of patient's who use the exercise referral process. The GP then refers the patient to a level 4 trained specialist, of which they will sit down and have a consultation with. Depending on what type of person visits, a specific 12 week programme is designed to suit the needs of the patient. Programmes can include intense exercise regimes with the help of a personal trainer, special nutritional advice for the likes of obese patients from nutritionists, routine physiotherapist sessions for individuals who may suffer musculoskeletal problems and sports therapists may also play a role within the referral process by applying sports massage or taping and strapping which may help with recovery and exercise. The programme Is reviewed after the first 6 weeks which allows the patient and specialist to discuss progress and again at 12 weeks. When the 12 week free programme is complete, patient's are offered and advice to continue with a discounted membership available. This will allow the patient to stay healthy in the long term and reduce their chance of returning to their normal state prior to the referral process.


There are many different specific groups within the population with a wide variety of specific needs. An individual with an illness, injury or impairment can be classed as disabled, and depending on their need, sometimes exercise can be extremely difficult. For example, an individual may have an impairment that requires them to have a wheelchair, and this may lower the exercise opportunities available to them. Nowadays, exercise is made more accessible due to available facilities, special sessions for specific groups (eg. wheelchair basketball) and also qualified coaches that meet the needs of the group.

'Lucky Stars' is an initiative set up by the public sector for the disabled and takes place at Benfield Sports Centre every Saturday from 13:30 - 15:30. The scheme aims to cater for all needs and offers a wide variety of activities from trampolining, judo and football, to less intense activities such as playing with sensory balls. It is available for all ages and disabilities at just £3 per session and free admission for carers/helpers. It allows for people to socialise with those of similar needs and make new friends whilst also keeping fit and having fun. Public transport routes are available throughout the area in the form of a bus or metro and there is also disabled parking available at the facility. All individuals have access to disabled toilets and changing facilities within the centre and the sports centre itself is well equipped with wheelchair ramp access and specialist equipment. The public transport however, can get busy and it can become difficult to get the allocated disabled seats at times. Also, the cost can add up for those individual attending every week and using public transport.

Another initiative set up for the disabled is wheelchair basketball. This is run by the public sector at Sport Central every Tuesday from 7:45-8:45. The cost is only £1 and everyone is welcome. At the facility, ramps and slopes are fitted for easy wheelchair access, with automatic doors, and therefore no struggle. Disabled toilets and changing facilities are also available on site for those who require them. This session just allows people with different disabilities to interact whilst also being physically active receiving coaching from qualified coaches. Although any disability is welcome, it may be difficult for individuals with certain disabilities to participate. The session also requires a lot of equipment and only focuses on one sport so some individuals may not enjoy just one focused area. It also doesn't have different age or ability levels; this should therefore be addressed and improved in order to receive more interest. The session also only runs once a week and similarly to majority of sessions and initiatives, some people may not be able to make that one session and hence miss out as a consequence.

Both these initiatives are set up by the public sector. Each activity only occurs once a week, which could be improved because some people may not be able to attend the certain day. Financial wise, the wheelchair basketball session is cheaper by £2 which may not seem a lot but it can be a considerable saving. The wheelchair basketball does not have any age groups and because it is focused on the one sport, it would be unfair to put a 6 year old up against a 30 year old. Although they may have different disabilities, older people do tend to have more muscle and will have an advantage over the younger participants which may make them feel intimidated and uncomfortable. It could also make certain people lose interest very quickly. In order to make the sessions fair, specific age groups should be introduced. This will not only produce more potential interest, but it will provide more in depth coaching compared to if the coach had to control all age groups at once. Similarly to wheelchair basketball, lucky stars also does not provide specific age groups, but because the activities are such a wide variety, and the individuals have their carers with them, it is not much of a problem. Because wheelchair basketball and Lucky stars only occur once a week and both sessions do not have specific age groups, numbers could potentially be a problem. For example, space could be an issue especially at the basketball and also, each individual may not reap the benefits of the qualified coaching compared to if there was certain age groups.

Compared to wheelchair basketball, Lucky Stars offers a much wider variety of activities to choose from whereas the wheelchair basketball is one single activity. Also, not all disabled people require a wheelchair and therefore, the wheelchair basketball will not be suited to them. Strictly speaking, Lucky stars caters for all different needs and abilities and therefore may receive more custom and popularity. However, it is good to have specific sports in which the disabled participate as it can make them feel more 'normal' and the people who attend can receive high quality coaching. Attending the wheelchair basketball may also become a hobby for certain people, as it is seen as a competitive sport and possibly one of the more popular disabled sports. Constant commitment to the session could potentially lead to sporting success for some of the individuals and it gives them something to look forward to and take their mind of things. Because It is a specific activity, the people can socialise with others who portray similar interests and essentially make lifelong friends of a similar ability.

Each facility in which these sessions occur, provide full wheelchair access and specialist changing facilities. Also both areas have strong public transport routes which allow any individual to attend, although there is limited space on transport for the disabled and the timing may not be right. To combat this, the scheme's could set up a specialist bus service with more space, but the financial side of this must be considered. Maybe a small fee could be paid by those requiring transport. Those travelling by car have access to disabled parking at both facilities.

Benefits of exercise

Benefits of exercise for the disabled are pretty similar to those benefits that abled people experience. There are a variety of physiological and psychological benefits.

Similar to all other groups, exercise can have great social benefits for the disabled. Attending these sessions allows the individuals to socialise with others who may have the same disability and even socialise and understand people who have different disabilities. Sometimes it may be difficult for disabled individuals to participate in sport especially if their peers are abled. If they have the opportunity to take part in sport with people of the same ability, it may make them feel more accepted and abled in themselves. Each week there may be a few more different people who attend which offers a bigger chance to make new friendships whilst staying fit and healthy.

Social interaction also helps ward off depression and stress which has many health benefits.

Another benefit of exercise briefly mentioned before is that it can reduce mental health symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. Many disabled individuals may experience these once in their life. For example, they may feel anxious and self-conscious about their looks and their lifestyle and lack of ability may sometimes make them feel depressed and sad. Physical activity releases endorphins which are neurotransmitters within the brain. Chemicals within these endorphins make an individual feel good. Exercise also reduces immune system chemicals that can worsen depression and it can increase one’s body temperature which may have calming effects. By focusing the mind on something else, exercise can make people forget about their daily struggles as it acts as a distraction that can get you away from the cycle of negative thoughts that feed anxiety and depression.

Exercise also controls weight. If you are wheelchair bound, it may be difficult to participate in physical activity and consequently you may be more at risk of becoming obese. Frequent exercise can lower this risk even if the individual can only do certain movements. It will burn calories that have been consumed helping the individual maintain their weight. Exercise will also reduce the level of LDL's in the cholesterol which will lower the risk of fatty deposits in the arteries. Fatty builds up within the arteries slow down blood flow and may also eventually rupture. This can cause heart attack or stroke, so by exercising and lowering bad cholesterol, the risk of this occurring is reduced. Different types of exercise have different weight benefits. For example, strength training can increase muscle mass which will therefore increase your calorie-burning metabolism. This means that by replacing your fat with muscle, the body will burn more calories at rest. By effectively maintaining weight and keeping fat off, individual's prevent the likes of high blood pressure, certain cancers, diabetes and other nasty diseases from developing, furthermore, improving quality of life.

Just like any other person, exercise can improve a disabled persons blood circulation. Proper blood circulation plays a vital role in general health. The bloodstream continuously transports oxygen and nutrients to the brain, skin, and vital organs in the body. When your circulation is reduced, various diseases such as varicose veins, kidney disease, and even stroke may occur. Because exercise raises your heart rate, your blood circulation in turn increases.When the heart muscle contracts at a higher rate, the increased volume of blood moves more rapidly through the arteries and veins of the body, boosting circulation. Improving and maintaining blood circulation builds a strong heart muscle and also improves the efficiency of the body, ensuring that both the arms and legs receive oxygen and other vital nutrients. Because many disabled people may be immobile, it is essential to have good blood circulation as immobility can affect your circulation and make it difficult for your body to return blood to the heart from the legs and feet. Exercise is a great way to increase blood circulation.

Older Adults

As you become older, it is obvious your body is not capable of carrying out strenuous activities like it used to be able to. Any one over the age of 50 can be classified as an older adult and each of them grow in a different way. Similar to disabled individuals, this group has a wide variety of exercise needs. Fitness levels can be determined by inherited factors.

The OWLS is an older women's leisure session that runs on Mondays by the public sector from 10-11:30 at Centre for Sport. The session lasts 1hour and then 30 minutes is allowed for a friendly chat over hot drinks and biscuits. This initiative is greatly appreciated by the older women as it allows them to keep active whilst also socialising and make new friends. The exercises carried out are at a perfect intensity, so not too strenuous for the older population. As well as being able to carry out low intensity exercise and keep fit, the session gives the women a chance to have a cup of tea and biscuits which could make them feel more comfortable and want to come back. The only drawback of the scheme is that it only runs once a week so if certain people cannot make the time slot, they will miss out, therefore the session could be organised to run more than once a week. Also, this initiative is only for women; this means the men are missing out, but it could essentially make the women feel more comfortable and at ease being with the same gender. To combat this, they could run a session similar for older men, or have a trial session with both genders together to see if it would run smoothly. The Centre is situated in the West End of Newcastle, providing various bus routes for the older women to travel on. There are also parking facilities available, but the older population may not require these.

Wonder Walks is another initiative run by volunteers which takes place in parks in and around Newcastle. It involves 5 walk leaders that lead a group of over 50's around outdoor parks. The walks occur every Monday and last no longer than 1 hour to ensure it is not too strenuous for the older adults. The session is free and caters for all abilities so everyone is welcome. The scheme introduced a 'buddy system' which aims to help those who turn up alone. It allows those who are alone to pair up and walk with a 'buddy.' The walks allow the people involved to socialize and make new friends whilst completing low intensity exercise suited to their age. It is very cost effective, requiring little or no money to carry out. To reach the destination of the walk, there are a variety of bus routes and a metro route; free travel for older people is available also. Some of the members of the Wonder Walks may say that they should occur more than once a week, as some people may not have full availability for that one weekly session and therefore miss out. Whilst on the walks, toilet facilities however, may not be available, and at an older age, this is a necessity. The walks also face the risk of being cancelled due to bad weather. To prevent the members from missing out in the bad weather, the leaders could arrange a tea and biscuits event instead.

The first initiative is run by the public sector, so it is all funded for whereas 'wonder walks' requires volunteers who give up their time during the week to run the session. Each programme runs just once a week. Both last for around 60 minutes and OWLS offers 30minutes at the end for a catch up with tea and biscuits. The timings of the sessions are just right because at an older age, the body will become tired quicker and it is essential everyone gets enough rest and does not complete exercise that is too strenuous. However, both these initiatives occur just once per week, which could lead to people missing out if they have other commitments or if they are unable to make a certain session. To provide people with a wider range of opportunities to attend, each scheme would see a rise in numbers and interest as those who cannot make the only day it runs, will more than likely turn up to a different day. Also, if both initiatives were to add another session in once per week, members and people who turn up may start to see new faces, therefore making new friends, but they will also see a rise in their health and fitness if they were to attend both sessions.

OWLS is a session specifically run for older women. In this case, it could be seen as a negative and positive. On one hand, by only offering a session for women, all the older men are missing out, lowering the opportunities available to them for exercising and joining initiatives similar to this. It is important that both genders mix and socialise and women only classes prevent this from happening. Future recommendations would be to incorporate men into the session, not only to boost the interest, but to give men a wider variety of exercise schemes to attend and also to allow the women to socialise and meet other people. On the other hand however, some women may say that gender specific classes make them feel more comfortable and at ease. Females and males bodies are different from each other and it could be hard to modify each activity given to women for men. If the scheme were to mix the genders, those individuals who feel more anxious and worried around the opposite gender may fail to attend due to the fear of humiliation or not feeling at ease. Maybe the providers of this initiative in future could offer a similar session for men only to ensure both genders are given equal opportunities when it comes to keeping fit and exercising.

The areas In which both these sessions take place both have strong transport links allowing easy access to and from sessions. This makes it easier and less stressful for those attending as there is no stress of arranging travel or worrying about getting there. With the correct funding in the future, possibly a special bus could be put on for the elderly to ensure they can always attend on time. For example, sometimes public transport is unreliable and may not always be on time. If this was the case, certain individuals may miss a session because of this wasting their time and money. Another possible down side to public transport could be the fact that there aren't many allocated seats for the elderly and often they can be took up by others and even by people who do not require them. In this case, it could make the journey more stressful for the person, which in turn could affect their health.

The session for older women occurs indoors so is guaranteed to take place each week, whereas Wonder Walks obviously is an outdoor activity and the chance of the session running depends on the weather. If the weather is bad, for example, extremely heavy rain, the walk may not go ahead leading to all the walkers missing out on their physical activity. If this was to be the case, the leaders of the Wonder Walks should always have a back up plan, for example, in future if the walk was unable to go ahead, an activity session could be planned for an indoor session if a facility was available. Because the walks are outside, it may put older adults off attending due to temperature, leading to more popularity for indoor sessions. Also, being an outdoor facility, toilets may not always be able to be accessed, and at an older age, the bladder is weaker than that of a young adult. This is not a problem however at the OWLS sessions as they have indoor toilet and changing facilities available. Although it may be difficult to organise a walk in the outdoors with available toilets, this should always be considered by the Wonder Walk leaders. Maybe a meeting point could be introduced at the start of each session where the adults have access to toilet facilities prior to leaving for the walk.

Compared to the OWLS sessions, Wonder Walks offers the use of a buddy system which is a great idea to get the elderly involved and mixing with different people. Loneliness is a big thing in older age and the buddy system offered allows the people to feel more wanted and accepted and allows them to make new, potentially lifelong friends. Because this system is offered, it is a great way to get the elderly involved and makes the Wonder Walks more popular and appreciated. A similar system would be of great use to the OWLS sessions if incorporated in the future.

Benefits of exercise

One of the most important benefits of exercise to older people is that it can actually delay disease. Older adults are more fragile and more at risk of developing diseases such as osteoporosis and arthritis. Scientists have found that staying physically active and exercising regularly can help prevent or delay many diseases and disabilities. In some cases, exercise is an effective treatment for many chronic conditions. For example, studies show that people with arthritis, heart disease, or diabetes benefit from regular exercise. Exercise also helps people with high blood pressure, balance problems, or difficulty walking. Bone mass can be lost at an older age but exercise protects against this. Better bone density will reduce the risk of osteoporosis and lowers risk of falling and broken bones. Post-menopausal women can lose as much as 2 percent bone mass each year and men also lose bone mass as they age. Research done at Tufts University shows that strength training can dramatically reduce the loss of bone mass, help restore bones, and contribute to better balance and less fractures. This is important for the elderly because they do become more fragile when they age. So not only will exercise help strengthen them and improve balance to prevent falls, it can also delay the likes of osteoporosis and other nasty diseases, effectively leading to a better quality of life in older age.

Loneliness is a big thing when it comes to old age. Because people tend not to work anymore or as much, and some people experiencing loss of partners, they can become lonely, which in turn can result in other conditions such as depression. By attending exercise initiatives suited to their age group, not only will the elderly keep fit, it will allow them to make new and potentially life long friends that they can meet each week. Age UK (2010) states that research shows the figure of those often or always lonely is between 6 and 13%. From research such as this we can estimate that around 10% of UK residents aged over 65 are lonely most or all of the time (Victor, 2011). This is why systems such as the 'buddy system' incorporated into Wonder Walks does so well. It gives lonely individuals a chance to socialise with others in the same position whilst exercising at a level suited to them. By preventing loneliness and giving the older population a chance to meet new people, it can make them feel better within themselves and may also get them out the house more as they have new friends to meet and keep in touch with.

As you grow older, your immune system does not work as well. The immune system becomes slower to respond increasing the risk of getting sick or catching a cold. The body is also known to heal more slowly as there are fewer immune cells within to bring about healing. The immune system's ability to detect and correct cell defects also declines. This can result in an increased risk of cancer. Regular, moderate-intensity physical activity has been shown to help protect people against some diseases, particularly those that involve the upper respiratory track like colds. It is said that exercise may help flush bacteria out of the lungs and airways which can aid in preventing a cold. This can be essential for elderly people because as you get older, the common cold can have worse lasting affects compared to those on younger individuals. Also, similar to having a fever, the brief rise in body temperature during and right after exercise may prevent bacteria from growing. This temperature rise may help the body fight infection more effectively.

Ageing can also see a impact on peoples balance, leading to them requiring support from a Zimmer frame or even a wheelchair. This loss of mobility and ability to complete simple tasks such as walking may take away dignity and make people feel slightly useless and depressed. Without such apparatus, elderly individuals experience a number of falls, and being so fragile due to weak bones means the slightest of falls can have a big negative impact, for example, broken bones. If a person was to play sport and exercise throughout their life and continue this into older age, they will age slower than those who have not exercised as they have maintained their health and fitness. Simple exercises can be carried out at specific elderly fitness classes to sustain balance and improve it in the long term to delay the need for Zimmer frames and wheelchairs but also to prevent falls. For example, back leg raises or balancing on one leg with the aid of a chair, nothing too strenuous.

Children and Young People

Children and young people need to be careful when exercising as sometimes it may affect their growth and development. Different initiatives and sessions are put on for youngsters of all ages to get them engaged in sport and keep them fit and healthy.

No Limits Aqua is a weekly water based session for children and young people up to the age of 17. The aim of the initiative is to improve the lifestyle of youngsters by making them more active and healthy. It runs on a Friday from 4:30-5:30 and is free for those with an ease card. Anyone up to the age of 16 can apply for an ease card for free. It is a dedicated session where the swimming pool is open to just the youngsters and they can please themselves. There are different size pools which cater for all the age groups, and floaters and toys are provided. This particular session takes place at Tynemouth Pool, but other ‘No Limits Aqua’ sessions do run throughout the week on different days at other leisure centers around the area. This can be handy for those who may have other commitments. The scheme allows the youngsters to socialise and make new friends whilst also having fun and keeping active. Bus routes are available around the area but it may be difficult for young people to get the money and for those who are under the age of 10, it is almost impossible to travel alone without their parent. To make the session more accessible for the young people, special travel could be put on for them. Parking facilities are available on site for those parents taking their children, and there is also a waiting area in the reception and a spectator area above the swimming pool.

Another scheme set up within the local area for youngsters is ‘Carroty Custards’ which focuses more on 2-5 year olds. This is set up by the public sector and takes place on a Friday from 10-11:30. It is similar to play group and just allows parents a couple of hours free time in the morning. The session involves interactive play with others of a similar age and music and dance based games. Admission is free for babies but £3 for toddlers. If they were to attend every week, the cost would add up for the parent. To solve this, block bookings for a number of sessions should be available at a slightly discounted price. It takes place at St Aidan’s Church which has available parking and toilet facilities and also good travel links around the area. For those taking their youngsters on public transport, sometimes the allocated seats for prams and children may already be taken which can cause a problem. Because there is only1 session per week, some parents may have other commitments, making their little one miss out. If the sessions are busy and successful, the initiative should set up more sessions on different days. One down side of the venue is that churches are notoriously cold, so temperature regulation is important especially with the children being so young. The session does however allow very young children to get involved with sport at a young age.

Each of these initiatives are both set up by the public sector, yet both are completely different. ‘Carroty Custards’ focuses more on toddlers and very young children whereas ‘No Limits Aqua’ is open to a wider variety of age groups. Youngsters taken to ‘Carroty Custards’ are able to be left with the staff at the venue in order for their parents to have some free time, however, if you were to take a child of such a young age to the swimming pool, they would have to be supervised within the pool. The sessions at the swimming pool seem a lot more accessible due to free admission and also the fact that the session runs more than once a week at different venues, whereas ‘Carroty Custards’ only provides one session per week at a cost of £3. This scheme would be a lot more popular if it were to offer more than one session per week because it is not often that parents get free time and many will be willing to pay the £3 instead of paying for a childminder.

Carroty Custards offer a more wide variety of activities compared to that of the swimming. Some younger children may find it difficult to grasp swimming and would find the activities available at Carroty Custards a lot more fun and interesting. Parents know that their children are safe when left at Carroty Custards as it is similar to a playgroup set up, whereas in the water, especially with younger children parents may not feel that they are as safe and therefore favour the Carroty Custards session. Also, when the free swims occur, the swimming pool is still open to members of the public, and children and teens may get in the way and affect their swim and time there. Sometimes people may complain about the noise or behaviour of certain children, especially if they are older and unaccompanied. This is why it is essential that the lifeguards re-enforce the rules and ensure there is no bad behaviour.

Money wise, Carroty Custards comes at a cost of £3 per session whereas No Limits Aqua can be free of cost. Also, even though there are good transport links around the area, No Limits Aqua takes place at a variety of leisure centres around the North Tyneside given a wider range of opportunities for youngsters to attend. If Carroty Custards began running sessions at other areas instead of one place, more parents would be likely to pay the £3 in order to get some free time. Only running the session at one venue means many people may need to travel or get public transport which can add the cost up. To try avoid paying too much, the scheme could begin sessions at different venues or introduce block bookings at a lower cost.

Benefits of exercise

There are a wide variety of exercise benefits for children and young people. Children are known for having a sweet tooth and consuming too much fat and sugar which can only lead to bad health and obesity. By getting children into exercise from a young age, this risk is greatly reduced. Exercise prevents sugar from accumulating in the blood by triggering muscles to take up more glucose from the bloodstream and use it for energy. It will also help maintain the child's weight and prevent any unnecessary weight gain. Exercise burns calories and will build more muscle instead of a child storing unwanted fat. Not only can maintaining a child's weight from a young age prevent the development of diseases, it can prevent events such as bullying from occurring and can give a child more confidence to get involved and physically active in school.

It is important a child does not over exert themselves when exercising as they are still developing and growing. However, exercise is known to strengthen bones which is essential for youngsters as they are forever falling over or being too adventurous by climbing trees and fooling around. Exercise increases bone density, which helps prevent osteoporosis, a condition in which bones lose density, weaken, and become porous and fragile. Although osteoporosis is more likely to be linked to older adults, by strengthening bone at a young age, it means the child is less likely to develop the disease and be more mobile when they begin to age. Children under five who aren’t yet walking should be encouraged to play actively on the floor. Children who can walk on their own should be physically active daily for at least 180 minutes (three hours) spread throughout the day. This should include some bone-strengthening activities, such as climbing and jumping.Children aged five to 18 need at least 60 minutes (one hour) of physical activity every day, which should include moderate intensity activity, such as cycling and playground games. Essentially, exercise helps children’s bones become and stay strong and enhances the bones’ mineral density. Having strong bones is especially important for growing children. Children’s muscles also become stronger through exercise. Building strong bones and muscles means children have more stamina and resilience to handle whatever challenges might come their way.

Exercise can benefit a child’s brain in significant ways. It has been known to improve their performance in class. It stimulates the formation of new neurons and enhances a substance that brain cells need to grow. As a result of these brain improvements from exercise, children experience better cognitive performance and focus, among other benefits. Children who are in better physical shape as a result of exercise also have more rapid reaction times than children who do not exercise. Sports have been found to help learning functions. Participation in sports and other forms of physical activities enhance areas like information processing, behavior, and memory. Learning could also be incorporated into a physical education session. For example, young children could throw bean bags into a hoop and add the scores up. It may be simple, but it allows the child to learn whilst outside having fun and keeping active.

Exercise can also help improve children's skills. Teamwork is a key skill needed throughout life, whether it be for a job or as part of a club and participating in exercise is a great way to improve this quality. Often in school, children are encouraged to work in teams during physical education and the concept of winning as a team and having to work together to do so can embed the skill into a youngster. It helps them interact with other people, improve their social and communication skills and also improves their ability to collaborate with mentors and peers. Working in a team also forces youngsters to communicate effectively from a young age. Because communication is needed to work well together as a team, children can develop it naturally through playing sport. By possessing this from a young age, it can help with future learning such as presentations, classroom discussion and also their written communication. If these skills are learnt early, it can be easier to develop them in later life and can help with success of an individual.