There are a number of ways you can lead a healthier lifestyle, either by stopping smoking, eating a better diet or taking up more exercise.
The advice and choices available can be overwhelming and it can be difficult to work out which approach is the best one to take.
Swindon Public Health has put together a list of the different healthy lifestyle services available nationwide and in Swindon to help you with this.
Lifestyle: internet and apps
General lifestyle information:
- NHS Live Well section (www.nhs.uk/livewell/Pages/Livewellhub.aspx): information on most areas of lifestyle change, including tools and tips to help you be more active, stop smoking, reduce alcohol, manage your weight, reduce stress and eat well. There is a 12 week weight loss programme, home exercise workouts plus podcasts to increase flexibility or to help you to start running (from couch to 5K), plus much more.
- Swindon Local offer (https://localoffer.swindon.gov.uk/home): click on the ‘staying healthy’ tab to get to a range of information on local lifestyle services for stopping smoking, being more active, reducing alcohol, losing weight and healthy eating as well as online services.
- Swindon diabetes website (www.swindondiabetes.co.uk/): has local lifestyle information and self-care advice.
- The Mental Health Foundation: offers a range of free wellbeing audio podcasts, which include mindfulness, relieving stress, physical activity and healthy eating - www.mentalhealth.org.uk/podcasts-and-videos/podcasts-for-your-wellbeing
Fitness and food apps, podcasts and websites:
- Change4Life Food Scanner app: this free app allows you to scan food packaging barcodes for sugar, fat and salt content - www.nhs.uk/change4life/food-facts (bottom of the page)
- Swindon travel choices (www.swindontravelchoices.co.uk/): a comprehensive range of information on walking and cycling in Swindon, including a walking journey planner, a Swindon cycle map and ideas for local, circular walks.
- My Fitness Pal: a free website and free app that allows you to log and count your food calories and calories you burn from exercise - www.myfitnesspal.com/.
- Couch to 5k (a running plan for beginners): free app or podcasts- www.nhs.uk/Livewell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx; couch to 5k graduates podcasts (for running improvers)- www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/couch-to-5k-plus-running-podcasts/.
- Walking apps and pedometers: if you want to increase the amount of walking you do, a fun way to do this is to get a smartphone app (many are free) or pedometer to track your steps and then try to increase them on a weekly basis. If you are fairly inactive a good starting app is the free Public Health England Active 10 app- www.nhs.uk/oneyou/apps/.
- Virtual online challenges: there are many choices online. Two good options are www.raceatyourpace.co.uk/ (has a cost, but you get medals) and https://world walking.org/about (this is free).
There are also a range of apps that you pay for that, for example, help you to monitor your activity levels or include a GPS tracker to track your speed and distance or let you know if you have been inactive for a set period or provide you with routines. These include Fitbit, Garmin Fit and Pocket Yoga.
- Support on losing weight and being more active - The Live Well Hub (https://www.swindon.gov.uk/info/20139/live_well_swindon_hub): This is a one stop shop for Swindon residents to access a range of lifestyle programmes and guidance. These include weight management, cycling, supervised gym sessions, disability sport and other wellbeing support services. Services are provided by Swindon Borough Council’s Community Health and Wellbeing team. Health Professionals can refer. Some services are free and some have a small cost. Contact: Tel 01793 465513; email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
- Stopping smoking: ask for support and advice from local pharmacies and your GP practices.
- Alcohol and drugs: Swindon’s drug and alcohol services programme, called IMPACT, is provided by Turning Point. This offers free information, advice and support. Tel 01793 328150 or email- IMPACTreferrals@turning-point.co.uk.
- Emotional / Psychological Health: LIFT Psychology runs a free course to help people address the psychological side of making lifestyle changes. The service also runs many other courses that help people manage a range of physical health conditions (e.g. diabetes, persistent pain and cardiac conditions) as well as emotional health difficulties (e.g. anxiety and low mood). Book a place on any of the courses via the website https://lift-swindon.awp.nhs.uk/ or call 01793 836836 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Swindon has many sports clubs, leisure centres and gyms to help people to be more active and improve flexibility as well as lots of open space for walking and enjoying the outdoors. Also see the Live Well Hub information above.
- Swindon Town Community Foundation: organise activities for older people and also a men’s and women’s weight loss and physical activity programme for football fans and their friends (cost involved). More information is available at www.stfcfoundation.com
- Walking Netball: is a slowed down version of netball, designed for anyone looking to exercise in a relaxed, supportive and friendly environment (cost involved). Contact Maureen Squires on 01793 423134 or email Maureen.Squires@GLL.org
- Park Run: free 5km walk or run for individuals or families, in Lydiard Park or Seven Fields, at 09.00 on Saturdays- www.parkrun.org.uk/lydiard/ or www.parkrun.org.uk/sevenfields/; junior Park Run, is 2km (ages 4-14 years only) on Sundays at 09.00 at Lydiard park - www.parkrun.org.uk/lydiard-juniors/.
- Shin Splints: a free weekly running club who support those who want a gentle introduction to running- http://gouldings.wix.com/swindon-shin-splints.
- Cycling: Fun, free, organised, guided rides of varying distances and difficulties, including for women only and families www.letsride.co.uk child and adult cycle training; bike maintenance courses and local clubs www.swindoncyclecampaign.org
- Disability Sport: A range of inclusive sessions, disability sport club and Special Olympics opportunities - www.disabilitysportswindon.co.uk/
- Strength and Balance for Older Adults (Otago). An exercise programme to improve strength, balance and mobility. Cost - £3 per session. Contact Live Well Swindon- see details at the top of the page.
- Walking: Step Out Swindon, 9 volunteer led walks/ week, including one gentle 30 minute walk. Contact: Grahame Lee, Volunteer Scheme Co-ordinator- 07932 109209; email@example.com; www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/walkfinder/step-out-swindon