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The University of Southampton

Community cafés to help people get active

Published: 11 June 2024
Woman in sunglasses, boats behind
Mimi Peertum, who has attended one of the Active Living Community Cafes

A series of Active Living Community Cafés for people with long-term health conditions are being held in Southampton.

The café sessions are organised by the University of Southampton as part of research into understanding the experiences of people with long-term health conditions in trying to remain active.

Anyone with a long-term health condition is invited to attend.

The project is led by Dr James Gavin , Lecturer in musculoskeletal health, and Luisa Holt , Research Fellow in the university’s Active Living Research Group. Luisa explained: “The cafés are a new approach in our research, in a move to be more inclusive and to involve harder-to-reach people.

“Engaging with local physical activities is important to people – and it’s important for opportunities for such activities to be on people’s doorsteps, whether that’s a social walking group, an exercise class, or facilities such as a gym.”

Discussions about barriers to activity and exercise, and how to overcome them, are facilitated at the cafés.

“When you have a long-term health condition, there is concern about exacerbating symptoms or making things worse,” said Luisa. “Patients want to be able to check in with healthcare professionals if needed. And the evidence is that if you don’t exercise you are putting yourself more at risk of problems than if you do.”

Mimi Peertum, 55, from Southampton, attended a previous Active Living Café at St Mary’s Stadium.

Mimi has osteoporosis that causes back pain. She said: “Movement and exercise help me with the pain I get, but it is very difficult to motivate yourself to do exercises at home. The cafés are a brilliant idea, because you are with other people so it is more motivating. The sessions are also giving us a voice to discuss better care. My health condition has improved by being more active.”

Upcoming cafés:

  • Wednesday 19 June, 11am – 1pm: Active Nation Bitterne Leisure Centre, SO18 6AQ
  • Tuesday 9 July, 9.30am – 11.30am: Thornhill Baptist Church, SO18 5TR
  • Monday 15 July, 12 noon – 2pm: St Mary’s Stadium, SO14 5FP

For more information, contact .

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