Health-care staff challenged to be fitness ambassadors
NHS staff in Wales are being encouraged to improve their health and, by doing so, influence patients and the public to do the same.
Aiming to harness the enthusiasm for sport and health fostered by the London Olympics, the Champions for Health campaign was launched yesterday (15 August) at the Sport Wales National Centre, in Cardiff.
The campaign, which is being led by Public Health in Wales, is seeking to recruit 1000 staff from across NHS Wales to commit to two healthy-lifestyle changes over a period of six months, beginning in October.
Staff will be asked to commit to two of five lifestyle changes: drink safely; take regular exercise; eat healthily; stop smoking; and work toward a healthy weight.
They will also be asked to report on their progress online at regular intervals throughout the six-month period.
Bob Hudson, chief executive of Public Health Wales, said: “Champions for Health is a fantastic opportunity to build on the energy and excitement created by the Olympic Games, encouraging people to lead fitter, healthier lifestyles.
“By leading by example, NHS Wales’ staff will both improve their own health and act as ambassadors to their patients and the public on the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle and the benefits it brings. Improving health is everyone’s business and this campaign will hopefully lead to healthier staff and a healthier nation.”
Evidence shows that even small changes in health behaviours can lead to increases in life expectancy. Giving up smoking, for example, can add up to five years of life, and eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day could add a further three years to life expectancy.
Welsh sporting stars are backing the campaign, including double Olympic rowing champion, Tom James, and rugby icon, Jonathan Davies.
James, who won gold in the men’s coxless four in London, said: “Encouraging health-service staff to become healthier by making some key lifestyle changes, and then motivating the general public to do the same, could make a real difference.”
Added Davies: “Sport has always played a big part in my life, but I appreciate that for many people this doesn’t come so easily. Champions for Health is a great opportunity for those in Welsh health care to inspire others to lead a healthier life, as a result of this exciting initiative.”
A training programme will begin after the campaign to help staff improve their skills and become more confident in providing advice on healthy lifestyles.
Further details are available at www.championsforhealth.wales.nhs.uk
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