Inspirational Mark is now fighting fit

Mark Ward (left) with Michael Price, North East Derbyshire District Council's Assistant Health Referral Officer during a session at Eckington Swimming Pool.
Mark Ward (left) with Michael Price, North East Derbyshire District Council's Assistant Health Referral Officer during a session at Eckington Swimming Pool.

A PRESCRIPTION for exercise leaves Killamarsh dad fighting fit – and is an inspiration to others for 2012!

Dad-of-two Mark Ward has shed over two stones – and found a new lease of life – thanks to a scheme which helps people tackle health problems through exercise.

The 40-year-old from Killamarsh has lost over 15 per cent of his body weight in just over three months after signing up to the Health Referral Programme because of a long-term back problem.

Mark says he is also now more mobile, suffers much less pain and has hugely improved his sleeping patterns following the 12-week tailor-made exercise programme at Eckington Swimming Pool.

And now Mark – who also took swimming lessons at the pool as he couldn’t swim – has set his sights even higher by signing up to do the five mile Great North Swim in Lake Windermere in 2012!

Mark, who works as an Environmental Services Officer at Sheffield City Council, said: “I’ve struggled with ongoing back problems since I worked in a foundry when I was younger. I’ve always been on painkillers, and struggled to be active – slowly putting on weight.

“Having never learnt to swim I decided to sign up for adult lessons at the centre, and I found that swimming actually really helped with the pain.

“My GP then referred me to this scheme to help me build up my exercise and fitness levels and provide me with the motivation and support I needed to become more active for the benefit of my health.”

The Health Referral Scheme is run by North East Derbyshire District Council, Derbyshire County NHS at Dronfield Sports Centre, Eckington Swimming Pool, Sharley Park Leisure Centre and Killamarsh Sports Centre.

The project aims to increase activity and exercise in everyday life for people - like Mark - who want to improve their health.

A personal exercise programme was drawn up for him – including regular sessions in the fitness suite to improve his strength and mobility. Mark also followed the ASA Swimfit programme which is a free online and poolside club that provides people with a gym style work-out programme for the pool.

Since following his new regime Mark has lost two stones and two pounds and says he feels like a new man. He no longer relies on painkillers for his back and his blood pressure is also lower.

“The whole experience has been fantastic and it really has given me a new lease of life. As well helping me manage my back problems, I’m eating better, sleeping better and generally feel like a new man!” he added.

“Staff from the Health Referral Team have been a fantastic inspiration – I couldn’t have asked for more support and advice and I would certainly recommend this project.”

Project leaders are now urging others to take inspiration from Mark to kick-start their 2012 fitness goals, and find out more about how the scheme could help them. People must be referred to the scheme by a health professional.

Cllr Graham Baxter, leader of NE Derbyshire District Council, said: “Many people living with a range of health problems could benefit greatly from this project, and we would urge people to get in touch with their GP who will assess if exercise could help them manage their condition.”

For more information visit www.ne-derbyshire.gov.uk/health-referral or call (01246) 217208.