Running as a form of exercise may seem daunting to many Doncaster folk but a colleague at my GP practice has proved it’s never too late to start, and you can soon get fit enough to swallow up the miles.
Vicki Hassall is 42 and by her own admission couldn’t run more than a few paces without puffing and blowing until she signed up with Footmark, a local social enterprise that’s setting out to get Doncaster moving.
That was in September last year – just six months ago – and since then Vicki has been steadily coached to improve her fitness levels to the point that she now regularly runs around 10 miles each week and has signed up to take part in the York 10k run in August this year.
Exercise has opened up a new lease of life for Vicki, who as assistant to the practice manager at Kingthorne Surgery, is office based during the day but steps out at the Footmark sessions three times a week and says she’s never felt better.
I recently met Footmark’s creator, local man and former prison officer Roger Laidlow – pictured above with Vicki – at my surgery and found he has a passion for getting people to try fitness training no matter what their level or ability.
He became a fitness instructor four years ago and since then has helped thousands of people, who prefer the great outdoors to being in a gym, to improve their energy levels through running, cycling and general fitness sessions.
Roger reckons that, in the space of just eight weekly sessions, he can teach a novice to be able to run for 30 minutes without having to stop and, most importantly, enjoy it.
If you go to Doncaster Lakeside on a Sunday morning you’ll see many local people taking part in a variety of different activities, guided by him.
Recently, Roger has been given the ‘green light’ to work with local mental health charity Doncaster Mind on a new project, funded by Doncaster Council, to provide fitness training sessions for people who struggle with stress, anxiety and low mood.
You can refer yourself to these sessions, which range from ‘walking for fitness’ groups to high adrenaline ‘body blasts’.
Extensive research has proved that people who have low level mental health problems can benefit from taking part in physical activity. It’s not only the feel better factor, but also the opportunity to socialise with other people in a friendly setting that brings rewards.
Being depressed can leave you feeling low in energy, which might put you off being more active. But regular exercise can boost your mood if you have depression, and it’s especially useful for people with mild to moderate depression.
If you have difficulty with anxiety, low mood or stress, contact Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org you may be eligible for a place on this trial programme.