The life-changing and powerful impact of being active: a Move Together case study
Posted: Wed, 7 Feb 2024 10:30
Move Together is a physical activity pathway for people with long-term health conditions who would benefit from moving more. Participants are referred to Move Together by a healthcare professional, or can self-refer, and work with a coordinator to implement ways of being active into their lives. Move Together has had a profound and life changing impact on thousands of participants, including Gemma.
Gemma is 38 and graduated from the Move Together pathway in November 2023. We met with Gemma to hear more about her experience on the pathway and to understand the effect Move Together has had on her life.
Gemma was referred to Move Together by a nurse at the Leys Health Centre early in 2023. Gemma is autistic, has struggled with anxiety throughout her life, and had an extremely difficult time at school, which led to the decision to move to Spain. Returning to the UK brought back a lot of that anxiety for Gemma, on top of struggling with depression since her father passed away.
Gemma has also been dealing with a number of difficult health complications which have impacted her physical and mental health.
Joining Move Together: first steps to an active life
At the point of having her first call with Mark, a Move Together coordinator in Oxford City, Gemma did little to no physical activity. Jackie, her mum, was worried about how Gemma would find joining the pathway at first.
After her first call with Mark, Jackie noticed an immediate change in Gemma: "I could see the tension leaving Gemma's body simply because of the way Mark spoke to her."
Together with Mark, Gemma set her goals for the pathway, and they came up with a plan of different activities she would try. Her goals included losing weight, overcoming her anxiety, spending time outdoors, and building confidence so that she could care for a cat on her own.
Gemma started to see a personal trainer and went into the session with an open mind. After the first session, she came home smiling and was already excited for the next session.
The wider impact of being active
Being part of the Move Together pathway has transformed Gemma's relationship with being active. From having not engaged with physical activity, to it now being a highlight of her day, Gemma enjoys the activities she does and walks every day. She's noticed the effects being active has had on her mental health too: "When I have anxiety, the walking clears my mind."
Being active and the support that Gemma has received from Move Together have enabled her to develop healthy coping mechanisms and build confidence. From helping around the house with small things which she used to find difficult, to how she responds to news around her medical conditions, Gemma told us she feels so much stronger mentally and is more confident in her ability to tackle adversity.
Gemma's family say she is a completely different person and is unrecognisable compared to the person she was before joining Move Together. Jackie told us "The difference is so significant, and you wouldn't believe the transformation she's undergone."
Even meeting with us in the middle of a café with lots of people and noise around us to share her story is something which Gemma wouldn't have imagined ever doing prior to joining Move Together. Gemma has now achieved several of the goals she set out at the start of the pathway, including now having a cat, which she primarily takes care of on her own.
Though she has graduated from Move Together, Gemma continues to receive support with regular check ins with Mark, knowing that he is a phone call away if she needs to reach out for support and signposting.
We asked Gemma what she would say to someone who is considering joining the Move Together pathway, but may be anxious or apprehensive to do so:
"Please go for it. Move Together has changed my life for the better."
To find out more about Move Together and how to refer, please visit here: https://www.getoxfordshireactive.org/move-together.