Spring – a time for growth and renewal

AT last, the mornings are getting lighter and the urge to get out and about is increasing with each day.

This week saw the launch of the Torbay on the Move Active Workplace Challenge with teams of up to ten people from organisations across the Bay competing to walk the furthest over 24 days.

There are a total of 264 people taking part in 44 teams and each will be watching the leaderboard with a competitive interest, whilst adding steps and of course, getting fitter.

Walking is a great way to keep physically fit, but exercise also helps improve mental health so it is a win-win, particularly now that the weather is finally allowing us all to admire our amazing naturally inspiring scenery.

Here at Torbay Communities, we have long championed all forms of exercise for healthier lifestyles and have adapted various programmes, initially through the Ageing Well Torbay Project and now more generally to suit all age groups.

Nearly every day a walking group sets out from some point in the Bay, providing lots of health benefits and company for people who might otherwise be in danger of loneliness and isolation.

Walking can also be a fabulous way of raising money and there is a great example this weekend – the Big Tackle, a walk of eight miles starting and finishing at Torquay Rugby Club, organised by Rowcroft.

Last year the Big Tackle, which finishes with a pie and a pint and the chance to watch a Six Nations Rugby game, saw 600 people taking part, raising more than £90,000 in the process, all for a great cause.

We are blessed in the Bay with coastal and inland walks, and a short bus or car journey can take us up to the breathtaking expanse of Dartmoor for walks as long or as short as our fitness allows.

Following on from our experience with Ageing Well, we now run a programme called Live Longer Better, which concentrates on every aspect of healthy ageing.

Our programme promotes active lives and builds fitness and resilience to prevent health decline, disease and chronic conditions. We work with people who would not necessarily take up fitness activities, pursue a healthy lifestyle or join a gym i.e. those furthest from having a healthy lifestyle.

Many have underlying health conditions and live in areas of deprivation. (19.8% of older people in Torbay live in income deprivation compared to 16.2% in England. Furthermore, 32.3% of Torbay residents live in England’s 20% most deprived areas.

The key principle is that the increase in disease prevalence as people live longer is mainly due to their environment rather than the ageing process and can be reduced/reversed. The effects of disease are often complicated by accelerated loss of fitness.

Research shows that people who choose to stay fit and active have fewer illnesses, recover from illness quickly, are less likely to suffer from chronic illnesses, spend less time in hospital or using medical services, contribute more to their communities and lead longer productive lives.

The benefits of the programme are:
• Improved cardiovascular heart rate, lung capacity, respiratory health, muscle tone, strength, power, suppleness and balance.
• Increased physical, emotional and mental capacity, and motivation.
• Improved breath and diaphragmatic control.
• Prevention and reduced impacts of infection, diseases and diagnosed conditions.
• Helps to change harmful habits.
• Helps prevent other conditions (falls, heart disease, obesity, dementia) that can make people susceptible to infection.
• Reduced dependency on the medical system, social welfare and carers.


Overall, we are working towards improved health outcomes, great resilience in the community, reduced demand on health services, better delivery of health services and prevention of long-term degenerative conditions, greater awareness, sharing of knowledge and network of health support in the community – and better understanding between local people, patients and health professionals.

If you want to know more, drop us an email: [email protected] or call us on 01803 212638.

Finally, a call out to residents of Watcombe, the Willows, Barton and Hele who have the chance to share big ideas about potential positive changes in their neighbourhoods at the Big Event (including The Big Exchange and Big Free Buffet) at St. Martin’s Hall in Barton Hill Road on Saturday from 10am to 1pm. More details from Helen – call 07548 704876.