Sometimes it takes a hard lesson to embrace real change. This year, the entire world was schooled.

In the UK, the lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a national push to improve our health. New campaigns and initiatives have been launched, and existing ones reinvigorated, such as:

  • The new government-led Anti-Obesity campaign, which specifically addresses the correlation between poor health and higher mortality rates in the face of COVID-19.
  • The NHS’s One You campaign promotes small and manageable changes in multiple areas of our lives, leading to bigger improvements over time.
  • The NHS’s Better Health initiative, which is complemented by an app providing guidance on how to eat more healthily.
  • The formation of Active Travel England to encourage the development of more, and higher quality, walking and cycling provisions throughout the country

As a nation the basic stats of our collective health do not make for particularly comforting reading. Most notably, our waistlines have been steadily expanding over the years which continues to lead to rises in weight-related conditions such as strokes, heart disease and diabetes. As a nation we are overweight. There’s no sugar coating it. It’s hard fact, and a large percentage of those overweight are, in fact, obese.

The most vulnerable have been forgotten

Enabling our members to remain active, and able to improve their health where possible, sits at the core of our mission. We strive to support the government and the NHS in their ambition to encourage the nation to live and lead healthier lives.

Yet, we also acknowledge that there is still a barrier to fitness and activity: the mental hurdle and fear experienced by the thousands of people who live with an underlying health condition. Despite the scope and variety intrinsic to Better Health, One You and the Anti-Obesity campaigns, and others like them, the most vulnerable have been forgotten.

A group of anonymous people watching the sea

We know that, for many people, it’s not just a case of slipping on a pair of trainers and some lycra and heading out for a walk, run or whatever else: a cycle in the hills perhaps, or some yoga in the park. We know this because those are the people for whom MedicAlert exists to support. For a lot of our members, their conditions mean they naturally worry about what could happen if they engage with exercise. Many are scared to go out and exercise - if they have an accident or emergency due to their medical conditions, they will be rushed to hospital and no one will know about their condition or will misinterpret symptoms.

For example:

  • An individual experiencing a diabetic crisis may appear drunk: Low blood sugar can make a person slur his or her speech, walk oddly or seem incoherent. High blood sugars can lead to aggression or odd behaviour.
  • Someone with severe allergies may worry that, should they have a reaction, those rushing to care for them won't know about their EpiPen in their pocket and will miss the chance to save their life.
  • An individual with a history of stroke or brain injury may be very vulnerable if they have another accident. As loss of speech is a key feature of these conditions, they will no longer be able to communicate their needs for themselves. 

We know that regular exercise can positively impact mental as well as physical health. However, the combination of the current social pressure due to the new Anti-Obesity Drive to exercise, alongside an individual's fear of sports and fitness activities due to their medical conditions can negatively impact their mental health as they feel torn and stressed.

Building confidence in being active

A lone runner ascending a dune

Creating confidence and peace of mind is key to sustaining increased activity levels.

Imagine if everyone living with a medical condition knew that, should they have an emergency, when a paramedic arrives, they’ll be able to access all their medical information. Their conditions, which medications they take, their emergency contact and even copies of scanned medical documents… even if the person was not conscious! Now they would feel safe to get out there!

The answer is surprisingly simple, yet still not known by many of those who need it: medical ID services and jewellery.

We know that most people want to lead healthier lives, and to continue doing things that will continue to improve their lives. Things like running races, riding horses, weight training and doing yoga. By providing peace of mind that MedicAlert members will have unparalleled support in the event of emergencies, where they may not be able to speak for themselves, we offer them the freedom to lead a life the way they choose, knowing that:

  • All their medical information is available, wherever they are in the world. 
  • A Registered Nurse has reviewed their information, to ensure it is medically sound, prioritised for use in an emergency and written so that a paramedic can digest it as quickly as possible. 
  • Medical documents can be emailed to first responders or hospitals, to support care decisions
  • Allergies and medications are highlighted. 
  • Next-of-kin contact details are available. 
  • Paramedics, first responders and emergency services are trained to recognise the MedicAlert symbol.

We are here to support you. To encourage you, cheer you on and to provide the confidence for you to be able to slip on those trainers, slide into the lycra and step outside or into the gym. Whatever your choice of activity is, we’re with you, every step of the way.

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References to other websites herein are done so with sincerity and an open appreciation for their content.

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