Wednesday 31stOctober saw the launch of the Move More Western Isles programme of activities, aimed at helping islanders with long term conditions, including cancer, to be more physically active.

“Most of us know that being active plays an important part in managing many long term health conditions like heart disease and diabetes,” said Move More WI Activity Officer Kirsty Wade.“But how many of us realise that taking part in physical activity before, during, and after a cancer diagnosis can help prevent and manage some of the effects of cancer treatment such as fatigue, depression and risks to health?

“MoveMore Western Isles has been set up to enable more people with long term conditions, including cancer, to benefit from being active. Programmes are individually tailored and participants can take part in a range of appropriate physical activities in a safe and social environment. ”

NHS Western Isles, MacMillan Cancer Support and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have worked together to deliver the Move More Western Isles programme.  Training has been provided to staff and volunteers, from Barra to Ness, to support the programme’s classes and activities.

Feedback on the Move More WI programme has been positive, as one participant commented:“I feel the Move More programme has been very helpful. I would not have come and enjoyed the benefits unless I had been referred. It has helped my walking and fatigue.”

Another added:“I feel more mobile and more confident. I enjoyed taking part and the team were excellent.”

Participants are referred to the Move More Western Isles programme by health professionals, all the project’s classes and activities are free to attend and run for a minimum of 12 weeks.

Speaking at the MoveMore Western Isles launch, NHSWI Vice Chair, Mr Ian Burgess:“Our goal is to have a healthier population of people who have been affected by cancer and other long term conditions, by their participation in more activity which suits their lifestyles. We hope that the general population will be inspired by the enthusiasm generated by people affected by illness like cancer and heart disease and the positive benefits of increased activity will begin to be shown”

CnES Convener, Councillor Norman A MacDonald: “In this programme we will address the unique challenges that the rurality and geography of the different islands present, by delivering the Move More programme across the Outer Hebrides using a range of traditional and innovative uses of new technology.

"We will improve physical activity provision for people affected by LTC’s (including cancer) in rural areas of the Western Isles, where exercise referral has not previously been possible and social isolation may be an additional issue.”

Joanne Adamson, Macmillan Cancer Support Scotland:“Traditionally people have been told that rest was best, and while it is right to rest at certain times, it is also really beneficial to get moving too. Research shows that being active during and after treatment can not only help with the side effects but also reduce loneliness and isolation many people feel.

“Many people may feel nervous about building up their activity levels, particularly if it’s for the first time after treatment or if they haven’t been very active for a while, which is why Macmillan is working NHS Western Isles and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar to provide this programme to help support people affected by cancer.”