The Leicestershire MS support group getting active together

Posted: Fri, 3 Nov 2023 08:30

The Leicestershire MS support group getting active together

Exercising can be more difficult when you're living with MS (Multiple sclerosis). But there are many ways to get active in your day-to-day life. We Are Undefeatable helps people do just that. Here's how it's helped one Leicestershire support group.

We Are Undefeatable is a movement helping people with a range of long-term health conditions find ways to be active that work for them.

People in Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland have embraced We Are Undefeatable with the help of us here at Active Together. We aim to support people in living healthier and happier lives through physical activity.

Active Together have supported the MS Society Hinckley and District Group since November 2022. They secured £4,000 of Together Fund investment to increase accessibility to services for people living with MS.

Representatives from Active Together and We Are Undefeatable visited the MS Society's Hinckley and District Group to see the real-life impact this work has had for people living with MS.

Visiting the local MS Society group

Words by Andrew Harris (Development Manager – Active Together)

"Once you've met one person with MS, you've met one person with MS"

"This was a thought-provoking phrase coined at the beginning of the exercise class I visited at the MS Society Hinckley and District Group. It'll stick with me for a long time and could be applied to people living with many long-term health conditions. No two people have the same experience."

In fact, many of the members at the exercise class were living with multiple long-term health conditions. The group of 15-20 people meet every Thursday to enjoy a tailored physical activity experience. They're expertly led by Liz Causon from the Leicester Tigers Foundation. She shared her experience of leading the group:

"I'm very clear with the group that I can't feel what they feel in terms of their MS-related symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness or discomfort, but all the movements can be adapted to each individual.

I tailor the classes as much as possible. For example, a few participants have recently undergone cognition tests and wanted exercises that could help. I've now introduced asymmetrical bilateral brain retraining elements to the sessions. We're all learning together what can help with MS"

Watch the video of Group members Sarah & Vix talking about how being physically active has benefitted them:

Combining physical and emotional wellbeing

The Group Coordinator of the Hinckley and District Group, Fiona Caton, spoke about the wider benefits of physical activity that the sessions have on members of the group:

"As we celebrate the 55th year of our Group, our original aims remain current today – helping anyone affected by MS (whether they use a wheelchair, walking aids, or walk independently) to increase their physical fitness, manage the risk of cognitive decline, and decrease social isolation.

Our weekly sessions have proven that regular exercise as part of a group can have a positive effect on people's mental health too, whilst also facilitating companionship and emotional well-being. This is achieved in a safe and welcoming space where people can share their "lived MS experiences" with each other and where many life-long friendships have been formed."

Different perspectives

"Being diagnosed with MS has changed my life, oddly yet profoundly for the better"

Andrew Harris continues…

"These were words I wasn't expecting to hear when I visited the group session. Perhaps it was naïve to think that everyone living with a long-term health condition, myself included, views their diagnosis through a negative lens.

What actually struck me the most during the visit was the sheer range of feelings and emotions on display. We had tears, laughter, naughtiness, empathy, grit, determination and passion. But in the end, it was smiles all round."

We hope to support some of the group members to become Let's Get Moving Champions and help us to share the message far and wide about the benefits of being physically active.

Peter Dutton, Activation Manager at We Are Undefeatable said:

"Active Together have encapsulated the ethos of We Are Undefeatable, linked it to their own local programmes, and have created great connections as the intersection between the National campaign and local activation of it. By forming meaningful local engagement, they can better support people living with long term health conditions, such as this local MS Support Group, to move more in a way that works for them"

Vix Proctor, Head of Brand and Marketing at MS Society said:

"Life with MS can make getting active challenging, when how you feel can change day-to-day. But when you find something that works for you, a little bit goes a long way to help you enjoy the bigger things in life. We're very proud of being part of We are undefeatable supporting people with long term condition being more physical active as it can benefit both physical and mental health. We have physical activity resources available on our website as well as local offer for people with MS. There is something for everyone."

Pictured: Hinckley and District MS Society Group - self-named 'The Mega Specials'

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