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Tuesday
Oct172017

New report shows competitive swimmers can be cleverer

New report shows competitive swimmers can be cleverer

 

A new report reveals that swimming training can increase a young person’s ability to concentrate and learn at school. 

 

In particular, training stimulates the mind for up to three hours which can help to improve exam performance.

Are Adolescent Competitive Swimmers Cleverer? has been written by Professor Ian Cumming, CEO of Health Education England and Chairman of Swim England’s Swimming and Health Commission, and Sport, Health and Exercise Science academic Karl New from the University of South Wales. 

The report is the first major academic review of the benefits of swimming on the academic achievement of young people, and shows the positive impact of regular aerobic exercise on academic performance. 

 

The findings show that short and long term effects of regular training increases the number of brain cells and connections between them. This leads to improved attention and accuracy in completing tasks and longer physical and psychological benefits including management of long terms conditions such as ADHD, obesity and dementia. 

 

Ian Cumming, who is also a Level 3 Swimming Coach, said: “Although it has been known for some time that exercise generally has a positive impact on the brain, competitive swimming is almost unique in that it delivers the optimal amount and frequency of exercise to deliver the cognitive benefits. On top of this, it also provides the psychological components of being with a team, which is also very positive for young people. 

 

“During training, swimmers are always thinking about what they are doing and trying to improve their technique. This means they are using both their brain as well as their muscles and stimulating all areas of the body. The findings in this report show there are both short and long-term benefits of this, which makes it extremely exciting.” 

 

Ian was motivated to explore this area of work following a conversation with the headmaster of a high-performing secondary state school. 

 

Ian explained: “A school teacher raised with me the observation that swimmers at his school were hard-working and perform highly academically. As a swimming coach and the parent of a swimmer, I know that swimmers are disciplined and organised, but I wanted to discover whether there was any scientific reasoning behind this. 

 

“I was particularly surprised to learn about the academic benefits of maintaining swimming training during exam periods. This is in contrast to current approaches that see swimmers stop training. I’m keen to explore this further and share the findings with other swimming coaches and clubs.” 

 

The report was launched at Swim England’s Annual Council Day. Jane Nickerson, CEO of the national governing body, welcomed the report and said: “This report provides evidence about the additional benefits of swimming for our competitive swimmers, which will be invaluable for our coaches, athletes and parents. 

 

“We have always known that swimming is good for you in many different ways, but the publication of reports such as this and the recent Swimming and Health Commission report will have a real impact on people’s understanding and the guidance we provide.”  

 

Duncan Selbie, Public Health England Chief Executive provided a foreword for the report, commented: “Competitive swimming clubs, like other sports clubs, can offer an environment where young people can learn about the good techniques for success in life such as goal setting, stress management and social interaction. 

 

“Although the report focuses on competitive swimming, many of the benefits play out in recreational swimming and it provides an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how team sport, and swimming in particular, can improve individual’s health, and the health of the nation.” 

 

To download the report people can visit bit.ly/CompetitiveSwimmersReport

 

Ends

 

Notes to editors

For more information, images or to request an interview, please contact Alison Clowes via alison.clowes@swimming.org or 07919 548039. 

 

About Swim England
Formally known as the Amateur Swimming Association, Swim England is the national governing body for swimming in England. It helps people learn how to swim, enjoy the water safely, and compete in all aquatic sports. Swim England’s vision is of a nation swimming and it strives to inspire everyone to enjoy the water in the way that suits them. Each month millions of people are able to enjoy swimming, diving, water polo and synchronised swimming, having been through the Swim England Learn to Swim Programme. Swim England also supports its members, clubs and athletes, and runs qualification and education programmes to develop the workforce. For more information visit
swimming.org/swimengland

Thursday
Oct052017

Congratulations @oomphwellness on promising new funding for older adult physical activity

Oomph! Wellness has been announced as the largest delivery partner of Sport England’s £10m Active Ageing Fund. With £915k National Lottery Funding from Sport England, Oomph! will get 27,000 adults doing regular exercise within two years. They will train around 1600 workers and volunteers in retirement villages and community venues to run adapted sports activities for older people.

Oomph! is prioritising online applications from venues in the North West of England and London and the South East before moving on to other regions. Oomph! is an award-winning social enterprise which is best known for transforming exercise and activity provision in care homes, working with many of the biggest providers to put quality of life front and centre. It was established in 2011 by young entrepreneur Ben Allen. 

Oomph!’s fun-first approach involves bringing elements of lesser-known sports including volleyball, weightlifting, boccia and urban orienteering to a huge audience with regular sessions being provided through housing associations, retirement villages and at public venues such as libraries and community centres. Oomph! is working with the National Sports Governing Bodies for each of these four sports and in some cases drawing upon Paralympic Games versions of these sports. 

The Housing Associations' Charitable Trust (HACT) has advised Oomph! on how to reach as many housing association locations as possible. Barry Malki, Head of Communities, HACT said:
“HACT is working with Oomph on this innovative project to help enable more older adults to be active in their own homes. We're excited to see the initiative being scaled up with this funding, as housing providers are increasingly looking to support their residents to improve their health and wellbeing through alternative and innovative methods”

 To enable the project to achieve wide reach, Oomph! has secured the involvement of the County Sports Partnership Network, an England-wide group of organisations who are responsible for facilitating sports and activity at a local level. Inactive people over the age of 55 are a large and diverse group (roughly 6.4 million people) so age and community appropriate programmes will be tailored to each setting. 

An anticipated 800 venue partners will use a bespoke app uploaded onto a tablet computer to enable Oomph! to report in real-time to Sport England and direct additional support to partners that are struggling to keep people on the programme. 

Ben Allen, CEO of Oomph! said:“We’re in the business of making exercise fun and delivering long-lasting behaviour change and improved wellbeing. In the last few years we’ve trained over 2,000 care home staff to deliver over 60,000 Oomph! sessions. We’re now excited to shake things up for older people in the community who struggle to find the motivation or available opportunities to stay strong. Our real-time stats will be a leap forward for the whole sector enabling us to report on the numbers and frequency of participants and evaluate which approaches work best.” 

All activities have been designed to be run by instructors with no prior experience and without specialist equipment. For example, the volleyball won’t require a regulation net and street orienteering will use the UK’s expansive network of post boxes as checkpoints. 

Metropolitan, one of the UK’s leading providers of affordable housing and care and support services, has piloted Oomph! in the Community. Peter Leach, Older People’s Services Lead at the housing association, said: “At Metropolitan, we focus on helping our customers to achieve their personal goals and to live as  independently as possible for as long as possible. Physical activity and exercise can help older people stay healthy, energetic and independent. Through our partnership with Oomph!, our residents have enjoyed getting involved in regular, fun exercise classes - and we are now working with the organisation to train members of our team to deliver sessions at our services in London.”

 

Sport England has put tackling inactivity at the heart of its strategy and launched the Active Ageing fund to tackle inactivity in the over 55s. Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England said:

“Being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age. We’re delighted to be supporting Oomph! with National Lottery funding to help get older adults lead happier and heathier lives. We’ll be sharing learnings so successful approaches can be scaled-up or replicated across the country.”

 

NOTES TO EDITOR

  1. Sport England research shows:
  • 42 per cent of people aged 55 and over are inactive compared to 29 per cent of the adult population
  • There are roughly 5.8 million inactive people over 55 in England and the number of inactive people is growing as people are living longer.
  • Inactivity among over 55s is responsible for as many deaths as smoking
  • 36% of over 55s are inactive compared to 26% of the population as a whole
  • Age 55-64 (28% inactive), 65-74 (31% inactive) 75-84 year olds (49% inactive), 85+ (72% inactive)
  • The Chief Medical Officer defines an inactive person as someone who, over the course of a week, does not achieve a total of 30 moderate intensity equivalent (MIE) minutes of physical activity

[Sport England’s Active Lives survey November 2015 – November 2016.] 

 

  1. Sport England had anticipated awarding bids of a value between £50,000 and £500,000. However, Oomph! Wellness has secured a £915,000 investment to deliver regular sports activities for 27,000 older adults over the course of 12 months.https://www.sportengland.org/media/11410/active-ageing-prospectus.pdf
  2. Please contact us if you are interested in attending an Oomph! in the Community session at a sheltered housing venue.
  3. NICE clinical guidance on preventing falls in older people recommends 2 sessions of strength and balance training per week for older adults. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg161/chapter/1-Recommendations. Strength and Balance is specifically mentioned under point 1.1.4.

Contact Sport England at: media.team@sportengland.org

020 7273 1593 / 020 7273 1800

For more information on the Active Ageing fund please visit:

www.sportengland.org/funding/active-ageing-fund/

About Sport England

Sport England is a public body and invests more than £300 million National Lottery and government money each year in projects and programmes that help people get active and play sport. It wants everyone in England, regardless of age, background, or level of ability, to feel able to engage in sport and physical activity. That’s why a lot of its work is specifically focused on helping people who do no, or very little, physical activity and groups who are typically less active - like women, disabled people and people on lower incomes.

Thursday
Jun292017

UK Chief Medical Officers issue advice for health professionals on physical exercise during pregnancy

UK Chief Medical Officers issue advice for health professionals on physical exercise during pregnancy:

  • New advice on types and amount of safe physical exercise for pregnant women
  • Recommends up to 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week, plus strength and balance activities
  • Women encouraged to listen to their bodies and adapt their physical activity accordingly
  • Recommendations aim to reduce obesity, diabetes and address other health concerns for pregnant women. 

The UK’s Chief Medical Officers (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) have jointly released new advice on physical exercise for expectant mothers— believed to be the first of its kind in the world.

The new recommendations aim to reduce issues such as obesity, diabetes and other health concerns during pregnancy. The latest evidence suggests pregnant women should carry out around 150 minutes of ‘moderate intensity’ activity every week.

This is described as ‘activity that makes you breathe faster’ while still being able to hold a conversation. 

This new advice is being issued in the form of an infographic, aimed at providing midwives, nurses, GPs, obstetricians, gynaecologists, as well as the leisure sector, with the latest evidence on physical activity during pregnancy.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies said:

“We want to ensure pregnant women are aware of the benefits of being active throughout their pregnancy and are clear about the type of activities that are safe.

“The latest evidence shows that regular, moderate exercise during pregnancy reduces hypertensive disorders, improves cardiorespiratory fitness, lowers weight gain and reduces the risk of diabetes.

“We encourage pregnant women to listen to their body and adapt their exercise regime accordingly. A general rule is if it feels pleasant, keep going; if it is uncomfortable, then stop and seek advice. 

Women who have not been active before pregnancy are recommended to follow a gradual progression of exercise—beginning with 10 minute bouts of moderate intensity exercise, gradually building up to 150 minutes. The activity should be spread throughout the week, and it is important to remember that ‘every activity counts’. 

The new advice was constructed by the CMO Expert Committee for Physical Activity and Pregnancy, which included midwives, obstetricians, exercise physiologists, GPs, public health consultants, sports medicine experts, exercise professionals, nursing and research scientists. The project was led by Professor Marian Knight and Dr Charlie Foster from the University of Oxford. The aim was to produce evidence-based messaging for health professionals to use with the public. The infographic was developed and tested with panels of health professionals and pregnant women before consultation with more than 250 UK-based doctors and midwives. 

Health professionals are encouraged to use this infographic to discuss the benefits of physical activity with all pregnant women, to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle, with approximately 1 in 20 women being recorded as obese during pregnancy.

The key points are:

Pregnant women who are already active should be encouraged to maintain moderate physical activity levels.

Women may need to adapt their activity throughout their pregnancy. For example, replacing contact sports with a non-contact sport or an appropriate exercise class.

Importantly, the evidence supporting this infographic found no evidence of harm for mother or infant resulting from moderate intensity physical activity. 

Those who were not active before their pregnancy are advised to avoid intense exercise, such as running, jogging, racquet sports and strenuous strength training. But some activities can be adapted.

The study recommends pregnant women avoid activities where there is an increased risk of falling, trauma or high impact injuries. These include skiing, water skiing, surfing, off-road cycling, gymnastics, horse riding and contact sports such as ice hockey, boxing, football or basketball. They are also discouraged from exercise that requires lying flat on their back after the first trimester. 

If you experience breathlessness before or following minimal exertion, headaches, dizziness, chest pain, muscle weakness affecting balance and calf pain or swelling, seek medical advice. Women may also be advised to reduce/stop physical activity following pregnancy complications such as vaginal bleeding, regular painful contractions or amniotic fluid leakage.

The final safety message is a common sense ‘don’t bump the bump’, referring to all activities which place pregnant women at an increased risk of injury through physical contact.   

Notes to editors: For further information, please contact media and campaigns officer Dave Betros-Matthews.