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Muckamore programmes target better physical health

7th December 2021

Patient on exercise bike

Patients and staff at Muckamore Abbey Hospital are currently taking part in two programmes aimed at improving their physical health and wellbeing.

Participants in the Move More Challenge were given a target of 1,970 miles – the approximate distance around the coast of Ireland – to be completed in the 10 weeks before Christmas through a range of physical exercises and sports.

They have been clocking up the miles by walking, running, cycling and playing sports such as football, basketball, badminton and boxing.

The weight loss programme has been educating patients and staff about food ingredients, calories, fats, sugars and the risks of being overweight.

Mary Gribben, Specialist Physiotherapist in Adult Learning Disability, is involved in the Move More Challenge. She said: “We decided to pick a distance to give focus and we felt that a ‘Tour of Ireland’, which is approximately 1,970 miles around its coastline, would be a realistic target for us all.

“It’s been amazing to see all the patients and staff work hard together to increase their physical activity in many different ways.”


Dr Michael Kingsley, Specialty Doctor for Physical Health, added: “This all came about because we know that people with learning disability often suffer from significant healthcare inequalities.

“They would often suffer poor outcomes from things such as obesity or heart disease or even simple respiratory conditions.

“Something that we all know is that we all do better when we’re doing it together. We’re all influenced by what those around us are doing.

“So we thought ‘Let’s do a site-wide approach to see if we can all be in this together and have a Weight Loss Countdown to Christmas Challenge here at Muckamore.’”

Speaking about the weight loss programme, Dietitian Serena Barr said: “We know that the population with learning disabilities are at an increased risk of obesity, with rates of 37.5 percent compared to 29.9 percent of the general population.

“Health promotion work may benefit those people with learning disabilities to help them understand the risks of being overweight.

“Patients attend the stall and each week we have different resources to talk through, for example the sugars in drinks, the sugars in snacks, fats in takeaways and portion sizes.

“Patients get weighed and receive certificates for attending and those who lose the most weight each week receive a prize and get recognised on the leaderboard.


“Comments from feedback forms show 100 percent want to lose weight and 100 percent have learnt something new and 100 percent have felt listened to through the programme.

“Patients commented that they have learnt about the sugar in drinks and snacks, what one pound of fat feels and looks like and the danger of having too much fat, including the increased risk of having a heart attack.”

Best of luck to all the patients and staff taking part in the programmes. Hopefully they can hit their Christmas target!