Life is like riding a bicycle, to keep your balance you must keep moving

Rick Williams, Senior Occupational Health Physiotherapist, tells us how since lockdown, his exercise regime has dramatically changed, knocking up 150 miles of cycling a week. It is not just great fun but helps him support occupational health programmes too.

Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving – (Albert Einstein).

 

Cycling is an important part of my life

I’ve always played football semi-professionally until 2017 when I had to retire due to two bad knee injuries. I bought myself a road bike in April 2020 as I wanted to do more and more miles. With lockdown we had more opportunity to get outdoors and the weather was nice. I used it as a way to get out of the house and it became part of my routine. It almost filled the gap of my football and my love of team sport.

It’s great to get out and clear my head all in line with my person fitness goals.

Since lockdown I’ve done over 2500 miles of cycling and absolutely love it

Because I’m motivated to exercise, my drive is it to keep fit and healthy with the added benefit of getting outdoors. I aim for 150 miles a week.

So from an occupational health perspective, cycling has transferable fitness benefits, by improving muscle endurance and cardiovascular performance, if you challenge yourself enough. Improving fitness and muscle function can help reduce negative health outcomes associated with aging. Cycling to work or for fun could be an easy way to add exercise in your week to help reduce the risk of chronic disease.

GPs to prescribe cycling in new obesity strategy

The Government launched its obesity strategy on 27 July. In it, cycling has been heralded as a great way to lose weight. Public Health England research found that being overweight or obese puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19. In addition, we estimate that about two-thirds of adults in the UK are above a healthy weight. So there’s no better time to think about cycling.

Cycle to Work Day is 6 August 2020

Not many people are cycling to work at the moment, but we know lots of us are cycling. This year the circumstances around Cycle to Work Day are a little different, so the theme has changed to ‘Cycle to…Who? What? Where? Day’. Rather than swapping your commute, we’re being asked to ride anywhere, for any reason and with anyone. Check out more here.

Here’s my top 5 reasons why cycling is important

  • Mental well-being – it’s a good way of switching off, taking you away from the mental and physical stresses of work and boosts brain power
  • Getting you fit for work – it promotes weight loss and fitness, helps you sleep better and also promotes leg endurance, especially if you’re in a manual job
  • Health benefits – it improves lung function and can cut heart disease and cancer risk
  • Low impact – but still physically demanding
  • Improves navigation skills – and can even save you time avoiding traffic jams

Exercise can be used as a modifiable risk factor to reduce the risk of developing many chronic diseases

As we age, we progressively lose skeletal muscle mass and strength – this is called ‘Sarcopenia’. This can result in physical disability, poor quality of life and even lead to death if we don’t do something about it. Poor lower extremity performance is a strong prognostic factor that can lead to negative health outcomes associated with aging. Exercise is a modifiable risk factor we can target to reduce sarcopenia, so cycling is one way we can achieve this, in particular helping with muscle endurance in the legs.

 

Read more about Rick

Physiotherapy ticked all the boxes of what I wanted to do, including helping people get better from health issues

I have always been interested in the human body and exercise. I’ve also played football at Semi Professional level and played in the FA cup for a local team, Maine Road, in the north west.

Graduating at Manchester Metropolitan University with a physiotherapy degree, I did my student rotations all across the north west in different hospitals. I was fortunate that my first job was for an independent sector provider of occupational health physio. It gave me a really good insight into work based practice and I realised it was something I wanted to specialise in.

I like the proactive approach to help people get better

In the NHS people come in with a problem, whereas in the workplace we can look at proactive ways of improving health and wellbeing in and out of the workplace.

You feel valued at Connect Health

I joined Connect Health in January 2018 and I think the team and the leadership has always been second to none. They always put us first as people, providing opportunities to grow and take on new skills. Everyone gets on and helps each other out.

I’ve recently gone back to university on the advanced clinical practice apprenticeship programme which I am currently completing online due to Covid. This is being funded by Connect Health over 3 years and I get one day a week protected time to do this, which is amazing.

I enjoy the variety of work in my role

I am fairly proactive and like to take on different challenges. I travel around doing ergonomic assessments for businesses, which means learning how they work and the working environment.

In advanced clinical practice, we have to work within 4 pillars – advanced clinical practice, education, leadership and research. In the future I expect to take on extra roles and responsibilities associated with those pillars and develop those so that I can be an Advanced Physiotherapist Specialising in Occupational Health, something relatively new to the occupational health side of the business.

 

If you’d like to find out more about working at Connect Health, contact hr@connecthealth.co.uk

Click here to download Rick Williams’ Story