Minister of Health promotes the benefits of exercise for people with arthritis in Wales

08 January 2020
Alison and a volunteer and the Welsh Assembly.

At our event in the Senedd in Cardiff Bay, we celebrated the success of the Get Active for Arthritis project and shared our commitment to promote the benefits of exercise for people with arthritis.

Speaking at a Welsh Assembly event to support and celebrate Get Active for Arthritis, Minister for Health, Vaughan Gething AM said; 

“Living with arthritis does not mean you are defined by your condition, it is the choices we make that define who we are and projects such as this help us to live our best lives. I would like to thank Cymru Versus Arthritis for their dedication and support to date and I look forward to hearing more about Get Active for Arthritis and the benefit it brings to the people of Wales”.

What is the Get Active for Arthritis project?

Supported by the National Lottery Community Fund, Get Active for Arthritis is a unique project running across North and Mid Wales helping people living with arthritis to take control of their condition and become more active and healthier, and to enjoy a more fulfilling life.

The programme offers an activity based self-management course that provides participants with a better understanding of their conditions and the benefits of exercise.

It gives the opportunity to try out different activities, to find an activity that the individual enjoys in their local area.

In addition, the service helps people with arthritis to set up local activity groups that focus on providing peer support and help in embedding exercise into people’ lives for the long term.

Successful results

Since the service started three years ago, 380 people have attended physical activity classes and self-management courses and a further 1,000 people were reached through information sharing events. 38 volunteers have been recruited and 6 support groups started.

  • 92% of surveyed participants reported being more active
  • 96% felt better able to manage their condition.

Read the Get active, Get healthy evaluation report. (PDF 380 KB)

Alison’s story

Alison Williams (pictured above, left) is chair of the Versus Arthritis support group in Wrexham and she leads a Get Active for Arthritis chair-based exercise group once a week.

She shares her positive experiences of the Get Active for Arthritis project.

“We do between half an hour and 40 minutes of chair-based exercise, we use resistance bands for some of the exercises. It’s a lovely little group."

They all get on really well. We have a cuppa at the end and a biscuit. We have a good old natter about anything, sometimes it is about arthritis and sometimes it’s about our families or what we’re going to be doing the next week.

Alison added: “I do get a bit of a buzz when I say to people that I do the chair-based exercise group and suggest that they come along. The fact that people are coming back week after week is so nice because I was convinced that they would just come along to see what it was like… but I’m obviously doing something right through the fact that they do continue to come back.”

The benefits of exercise

Mary Cowern, Director of Cymru Versus Arthritis said: ‘When you live with daily pain because of arthritis it can seem counter-intuitive to exercise. There’s often a fear that exercise will damage already painful joints, but the reality is that increasing activity levels and re-engaging with exercise can strengthen joints and reduce the impact of arthritis, if done sensibly and safely.

However, we’ve learnt that providing information alone often isn’t enough, many people living with a painful long-term condition like arthritis need additional help and guidance to overcome concerns and barriers to exercise and peer support can help sustain lifestyle changes.’

We’re committed to do more

As a charity, we’re committed to take the learning from this project to:

  • help improve future health policy
  • improve awareness for people with arthritis about the benefits of exercise and how to do it safely
  • work collaboratively with local authorities and healthcare providers to support joining up service provision and pathways of care.

Collectively, our goal is to do all we can to improve the lives of people with arthritis.

Get involved

Follow the action in Wales on Cymru Versus Arthritis Facebook and Cymru Versus Arthritis Twitter.

**The event at the Assembly was kindly sponsored by the Chair of the Assembly’s Health and Social Services Committee, Dr Dai Lloyd AM.