They say that every cloud has a silver lining; it’s just sometimes you have to find it.
We are in the midst of one of the biggest health crisis in modern history; and it’s not just coronavirus which is negatively affecting health. We have noticed an alarming increase in diabetes, obesity and inactivity in Aberfeldy, a place where we live and work and care deeply about.
Yet as we emerge from this pandemic a growing group of us locally are aware of an opportunity. An opportunity to enable more of the community to live healthier and longer lives.
Inspired by reports from ‘Blue Zones’, areas of the world with the highest percentages of centenarians and some of the worlds healthiest people, we have focused on four common themes these places have in common. These four things have a plethora of evidence for improving health and wellbeing; moving more, eating well, maintaining emotional balance and connecting with others. Wits wonderful geography and its pre-existing community (which has only grown over the pandemic) we all passionately believe that Aberfeldy is the perfect place to pursue them.
This is not about finger wagging public health of old, but an acknowledgement of the benefits to all of us (both physically and mentally) of moving more, eating good food in the right quantities, finding a balance to allow the right headspace to thrive and living in community with others, offering supported and being supported as we all live life together.
We’ve seen people enjoying walks up the Tay, in the ‘Birks’ or in our local woodland. And we’ve seen the acts of kindness on our streets showing care for the elderly and less able.
This convinces us that community action could result in significant improvement in people’s fitness and health, enabling many to live well for longer. By taking action not only individually but in families and groups encouraging and supporting each other, we can achieve more than we do alone.
And out of this we have born a dream of Aberfeldy becoming Scotland’s Healthiest Town.
Please find out more at healthiesttown.org, or follow us on social media @healthiesttown.
Our plan is to remove as many barriers as possible to good health. Currently there’s far too many, so we aim to offer some evidence based clarity on what physical activity and eating well looks like.
Being an Olympian does not make us live longer. We often think of exercise as running a 10km or doing a triathlon. But the evidence and the anecdotes (my 95-year-old Grandmother for example) point elsewhere: that regular movement at all opportunities is as (if not more) important.
And with food we are constantly being informed of new diets and health products, which can be simultaneously too simple and overwhelming. We aim to offer some clarity on this, whilst also making good choices easier through community and business engagement.
Aberfeldy already has lots to be proud of. It has many existing walking and exercise groups, sports teams and community groups. During covid the town provided food for less able or isolating households. We hope to unify the many wonderful people and groups behind the goal of becoming Scotland’s healthiest town.
We care about our neighbours and friends, so have set out on a journey. A journey to live better for longer.
Dr Callum Leese