It’s good to ‘twalk’

GPs from The Woodberry Practice have launched a local initiative aiming to tackle loneliness, writes Dr Cristina Lopez-Peig

Pictured, from left, are Verginya Miteva, Dr Cristina Lopez-Peig and Dr Katherine Bluston
Pictured, from left, are Verginya Miteva, Dr Cristina Lopez-Peig and Dr Katherine Bluston

In recent years we have seen how loneliness and sedentary lifestyles have wreaked havoc on people’s health.

Loneliness is a direct cause of mental illness and a predictor of early death, even more potent than obesity, while lack of exercise is a risk factor for chronic diseases. During the Covid-19 pandemic this situation became even worse, with gyms being closed and people being forced to spend more time at home.

Physical activity such as walking reduces the risk of serious illness, including coronary heart disease, strokes, Type 2 diabetes and cancer – it can actually lower the risk of an early death by up to 30%. Walking can also boost self-esteem, lift your mood, improve sleep and reduce the risk of dementia, stress and clinical depression.

As doctors at The Woodberry Practice we came up with a fun idea to help our patients increase physical activity and become more connected. We are launching a new project – ‘Twalking Enfield’ – with the aim of increasing the physical activity of Enfield residents and reducing social isolation, by encouraging them to both walk and talk.

The challenge is for local people to walk, in teams of three, the equivalent distance from Enfield Civic Centre to the top of England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike! This is a distance of 360 miles and should be completed by the end of July. The teams of three will contain at least one person who has either a cardiovascular health risk, a mental health issue, is aged over 60, or is a carer.

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Twalking Enfield is free for all participants. Health professionals, social workers and others will be participating as well. The full distance can be completed with short walks every day, in and around Enfield, or anywhere else you like.

As soon as we shared the Twalking Enfield idea with other agencies, such as charities Mind, Age UK and Fusion Lifestyle (which runs several leisure centres in Enfield) they quickly joined us to help promote the project. All GP practices in Enfield also agreed to participate. We have since worked together to create and promote the event launch at the end of May.

We are very conscious that this will not be easy. Young people complain of not finding the time for walking and some older people fear using phones and apps. This is why it becomes a real challenge and the reason why we organised teams of three, so people who are more active and tech-savvy can help their family members, friends, or neighbours to take part. We all need to work together to help our population to become fitter.

Twalking Enfield is meant to be fun, while helping everyone to become fitter, including us as professionals. Let’s see how it goes – we hope people in Enfield engage with it! We are enjoying the experience of having different agencies working together for a common purpose and participating in something different from our daily work lives, while keeping in mind our main goal; helping our population to become fitter and healthier.

For more information about Twalking Enfield and to take part:
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