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04 January 2018

18 ways to improve your health in 2018

A new year brings resolutions, but you don't have to promise to make huge lifestyle changes that you give up after a few weeks  small changes can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing, and you're much more likely to maintain them, too.

There are lots of opportunities in Wiltshire to improve your health, there are a variety of different ways to make yourself feel better. Here are 18 different ways you can start 2018 in a healthier way.

1. Join a local walking group

Walking is a great way to get some exercise, to explore your local area, and to meet new people. Get Wiltshire Walking offers free weekly walks in many areas around the county, and there are walks to suit all abilities beginners are most welcome. So, whether you're taking the first steps towards a healthier you, looking to socialise, or you'd like to stride out into the countryside with like-minded people, you'll find a walk to suit you. Find out more about Get Wiltshire Walking.

2. Learn to swim or improve your swimming

Whatever your age, it's never too late to learn to swim or improve your swimming technique. Swimming is one of the best activities you can do, as it keeps you moving without putting pressure on your joints. Our Aqualetes programme is open to all ages and abilities, and is available at swimming pools run by Wiltshire Council. The programme follows Swim England's Learn to Swim pathway, helping to create happy, healthy and safe swimmers. Find out more about our swim school.

3. Start a healthier lifestyle at a gym

Making a commitment to improve your health and get fitter is easy to do and even small changes can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing. Our leisure centres offer a number of different memberships to suit your individual requirements, and you'll also get a full induction, providing you with an individualised programme, a free personal coaching session, and a free group exercise class pass. Find out more about our gym memberships.

4. Take up running

Running is a fantastic way to become fitter and healthier, and although starting out may seem daunting, there are lots of different beginners' groups that start out with walking and gradually building up to running, improving your confidence and fitness as you go. If you're a busy parent there are school gate runs that enable you to run with like-minded people straight after you've dropped your children at school. If that time doesn't suit you, you should be able to find a beginner's course near you or a local running club that welcomes beginners. Find a running group near you.

5. Learn about healthy choices with your family

If you and your children (aged seven to 11) would like to learn how to make healthier lifestyle choices, Healthy Me, Wiltshire Council's free healthy lifestyle course for children and their families, could be for you. Course are held in Devizes, Trowbridge, Salisbury and Chippenham leisure centres and start 8 January 2018. The aim is to build self-confidence and self-esteem, with sessions covering topics such as the importance of a balanced diet, being more active, label reading, and portion control; particularly sugar and fats. To find out more, please see Healthy Me, call 01225 716674 or email healthyme@wiltshire.gov.uk.

6. Try walking sports

Walking sports are the perfect way to get back into sport. These slower-paced traditional sport alternatives are particularly suitable for older participants, people recovering from an illness or injury, and those who wish to take the first steps to a healthier lifestyle. All walking sports involve adapting a traditional sport to a slower pace, allowing the sessions to be more accessible and creating a fun and social sporting opportunity. Walking football, netball, hockey, basketball and rugby sessions are held at various places around the county; to find out more, see walking sports.

7. Take on an iconic swimming challenge

This one is for more advanced swimmers, but if you're already swimming a lot, you could set yourself the ultimate new year's resolution for 2018 by swimming the length of the River Thames at your local Wiltshire Council leisure centre. To take part and successfully complete the challenge, you'll have to swim 346km (215 miles) or 13,760 lengths of your local pool. If 13,760 lengths seem too daunting a challenge, you can still get involved we'll be introducing some shorter distances through the year to help swimmers of all abilities stay motivated and reach an achievabledistance for them. Find out more at your local leisure centre.

8. Try a new ability sport

If you have a disability, we offer lots of different types of activities to enable you to try a new sport. During term time, we run Rising Stars, which enables young people with a disability to try a variety of fun sports. In Tidworth, you can try wheelchair basketball with the Wiltshire Wildcats Basketball Club; while in Devizes, the Wiltshire Boccia Club offers an exciting opportunity for people with disabilities and their friends to take part in a Paralympic sport. In Trowbridge, Salisbury and Chippenham, adults with a disability can enjoy fit club. Find out more about ability sports in Wiltshire.

9. Speak to your healthcare professional about Active Health

Our Active Health programme works with people with a range of health conditions, including cardiac conditions, people who have suffered a stroke, people with Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, and falls prevention classes for people who have had a fall or who are afraid of falling. The 12-week physical activity programme enables people to access suitable and safe exercise with specialist support, encouragement and motivation. To take part in these classes, you must be referred by your GP or healthcare provider, so in the first instance please speak to them; orto find out more, see Active Health.

10. Take part in Dry January

Dry January is back, and aims to support you to reduce your alcohol intake. This annual campaign, which is run by Alcohol Concern supports you to quit drinking for the whole of January. There are a number of reasons to take part in Dry January; it will help you to lose weight, save money (particularly helpful after the expensive festive period) and overall make you healthier and feel better. If financial and health reasons aren't enough, you can also get involved to raise money for a worthy cause whatever the motivation, there is support available. More information aboutDry January can be found from Alcohol Concern. If you want additional support to help reduce your alcohol intake then the One You campaign from Public Health England offers advice, information and resources.

11. Speak to our health trainers

Our free health trainer service can assist you every step of the way to achieving and maintaining your health and wellbeing goals. Health trainers work on a one to one basis to support behaviour change and improve health. They can also help you find other services and activities to support you. This service is for people aged 18+. Each community area has a named health trainer. To meet your local health trainer please ring 0300 003 4566 or email health.trainers@wiltshire.gov.uk. You will be contacted by the health trainer who works in your area.

12. Get ready for Big Pledge

Our annual health and activity challenge is back later in 2018, this time with a World Cup theme. More than 12,000 people got involved last year by taking part in a number of activities such as cycling, walking and swimming. Keep an eye on @WiltsCouncil on Twitter for more details and how you can take part.

13. Get a free NHS Health Check

People aged 40-74 and over are eligible for a free NHS Health Check so please take advantage of this when invited by your GP practice. The NHS Health Check programme, commissioned by Wiltshire Council and provided by local GP practices, helps to check people's risk of developing health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia, and stroke. Everyone between the ages of 40 and 74, who has not already been diagnosed with one of these conditions or is otherwise ineligible, is invited every five years to have an NHS Health Check. Visit the health check website for more information.

14. Be Smokefree

Our trained stop smoking advisors offer friendly, non-judgmental advice and support across the county. The advisors will give you tips and information while working with you to beat your cravings and change your smoking habits. Your advisor can also discuss the range of stop smoking medications and help to choose the right one for you. If you would like to use an electronic cigarette or vaporiser, we can still help you break free from tobacco use; let your advisor know that you have your own device and they can work with you to stop smoking. Support is available in most GP surgeries as well as at participating pharmacies and our health trainer service. To find your nearest stop smoking advisor, use our postcode locator.

15. Follow Public Health on Twitter

Our public health team have recently launched their own Twitter feed. If you want to get the latest public health news, advice and support to helpyou and your family live a healthy life, please follow @PHWiltshire.

16. Stay Warm and Safe this winter

Warm and Safe Wiltshire is a service provided by ourselves, Swindon Borough Council, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, in partnership with the Centre for Sustainable Energy to help residents live in safer and healthier homes, and offers all residents across the county, free and impartial energy saving advice. Not being able to afford to heat the home is a major problem for many households and can result in high fuel bills and poor health. For more information please visit the Warm and Safe Wiltshire website.

17. Maintain a Healthy Weight 4 Life

Please take a look at our Healthy Weight 4 Life e-toolkit. You will find information on achieving and maintaining a healthy weight at all ages along with useful resources and signposting to local services and recommended websites for further reading. Each life stage includes information on why being a healthy weight is important, top tips for a healthy weight, and further support available locally to achieve a healthy weight.

18. Improve your mental health and wellbeing

Mental wellbeing describes our mental state how we are feeling and how well we can cope with day-to-day life. Our mental wellbeing can change, from day to day, month to month or year to year.

Evidence suggests there are five steps we can all take to improve our mental wellbeing, these are detailed on the NHS Choices website. If you approach them with an open mind and try them, you can judge the results yourself. Please visit our mental health website pages to find out more and for useful signposting details.

Last updated: 10 January 2018 | Last reviewed: 10 January 2018

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