Thames House Women Go Marching On

Patients and staff from Thames House Women’s Enhanced Low Secure Unit worked together with health and fitness providers in the community to run a week long Military Fitness Camp in June this year. The goal of the military fitness camp was to provide the chance to experience a range of fun, healthy activities that gave ... Read more

Patients and staff from Thames House Women’s Enhanced Low Secure Unit worked together with health and fitness providers in the community to run a week long Military Fitness Camp in June this year. The goal of the military fitness camp was to provide the chance to experience a range of fun, healthy activities that gave participants a sense of achievement and encouraged changes in lifestyle patterns.

Like many patients with severe and enduring mental health conditions, the women at Thames House struggle to make healthy lifestyle choices, leading to an increased risk of physical health complications such as diabetes, osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease. Patients took part in weekly meetings to plan the event. They designed the camp T-shirts with the logo “Great Minds Working Together.” Patients discussed camp rules and volunteered not to smoke during activities and agreed “contraband” items such as sweets and fizzy drinks to be confiscated for the duration of the camp. It was agreed that staff and patients should be equal participants in the camp and a “buddy” scheme was developed.

Ten patients and ten staff members participated in the week-long event. All participants underwent a rigorous physical health screen at the beginning of the week. Two patients opted to give up smoking prior to the event. Each day began early with a healthy communal breakfast in the “military mess.”  Each sergeant was allocated drinking water and a daily ration of cigarettes, sugar and an energy bar.

Over the week, troops took part in various activities. There was an army assault course, a precision marching lesson, kite flying, Tai Chi, rounders and even a water combat exercise. Events took place at a range of sites in Oxford including Cutteslowe Park and OXRAD community sports cecntre in Marston. During the week there were team competitions and troops participated in a healthy eating programme. Everyone involved was impressed with the determination and enthusiasm of both the patients and staff who participated in the programme.  

The results were tremendous with the twenty participants losing a total of 15kg (or over two stone) and a massive 95 cm from their waist circumference. For some there were also healthy drops in blood pressure. Participants identified other changes in their overall health, such as better quality sleep, reduced stress levels, less reliance on medication, improved mood and greater levels of energy. Many have continued with the lifestyle changes made during the week, with greater gym attendance, healthier eating and an increased interest in taking up activities in the community.

We hope this will become an annual event for Thames House. Thank you to everyone in the community who supported us!

Published: 12 August 2011