On the 17th of October, 350 runners took to the streets of London to Run The Night for Crohn’s and Colitis UK. A huge team of volunteers attended – organising and motivating those who had arrived to run on the (rather drizzly) night! So far, we are aware of a whopping £60,000 that was raised by the event. Beyond this, the event was a fantastic chance for the community to come together, spreading awareness and sharing experiences with others.
Ampersand Health, the company behind the My IBD Care app and partners with Crohn’s and Colitis UK, attended the event. Two of their colleagues, Christine and Rawane, ran the 10km. Running preparation was low-key, with both ladies excited to test their endurance abilities. However, the Ampersand Health team were sure to make glow stick and neon paint preparations, a key priority.
Ampersand Health are currently developing Digital Therapeutic (DTx) programmes which will be integrated into My IBD Care.
The DTx programmes will support those with Crohn’s or Colitis to make lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity, forming healthy sleep habits and more – all aimed at improving patient’s health and wellbeing to prolong periods of remission.
Kishan, Ollie and Rachel from Ampersand Health, took this opportunity with our partners to further develop our product with the Crohn’s and Colitis Community. We spent the evening interviewing people on camera and asking them about their exercise habits, top tips for motivation and how their Crohn’s or Colitis has impacted their physical activity journey. We met consultants, patients, advocates, carers and family members of those with Crohn’s and Colitis. It was truly inspiring to share the evening with so many members of the Crohn’s and Colitis community. We are excited to integrate the insights you gave us into the development of our My IBD Care exercise programme, which is an ongoing project for our app.
We’d like to share the brilliant conversations we had on the night, so we have put together some of our highlights!
“How does exercise make you feel?”
‘It helps me destress and it keeps my mood positive – as I can feel quite low when I am unwell. I get really bored doing the same thing so I change my activity every day – some days I feel like running, some days I do weights, swimming, yoga, anything! For me, exercise is my time, I prefer to do it alone. It’s hard to find motivation sometimes. When I don’t feel well, running seems like the worst thing in the world – so that’s why I change it up depending on how I feel.’
“How was it preparing for the marathon?”
‘It started very slow and I only stuck to it because I committed to it. If you have something in the diary like a 10km run, you’re more likely to stick to it. If you enjoy exercising with other people that is one of the best things to keep you motivated to carry on.
“How do you feel after coming of the course?”
‘Really really good! This is the second time I’ve come here and tonight I beat my personal best! I’m not that much of a runner but I always come to this and try to keep myself fit. Of course, having Crohn’s and exercising – always benefits you.’
“What are the benefits of exercise for you?”
‘I work in front of a PC 8 hours a day – so it’s really great to come and do this. After a bad day at work, exercise moves you somewhere else. I really enjoy football and also swimming. For mental health, it’s really important. Running helps you to keep positive. Sometimes, instead of going out I will go to the gym and listen to music. Running with music is one of the best things that I know. With Crohn’s, one thing is that you really need to keep yourself positive and keep moving. I know some days you can’t do it because your body doesn’t allow you but you need to motivate yourself to do it.’
“What do you do when you are in that position?”
‘In a flare up – it feels miserable, let’s be honest. But once the flare up is gone – I come back with more strength than ever. I have had Crohn’s for 5 years and it’s never stopped me from doing anything, I just keep going further and further.’
“What motivates you to be active?”
‘When I was diagnosed, I was told that I probably can’t be as active anymore and then as I went on with the disease I found that wasn’t the case. I now have found that exercise really helps my condition, helps my mental health – it keeps me healthier. It’s difficult to fit it all in – so fitting in little bits in my day helps me keep healthy, helps my mind and helps me sleep better.’
“What do you think about tracking your exercise?”
‘I found it useful to monitor my activity levels and it’s a reminder for that. But also, I think you can become a bit too obsessed with it. I ended up trying to run and walk too much and it ended up giving me injuries so it has its positives and negatives. I think it’s definitely important to be aware of your activity levels though.’
“What would you say to someone who believes that exertion of exercise actually makes symptoms of the condition worse?”
‘If you are starting out and you are worried about exercise having a negative impact on your condition, you’ve got to listen to your body. You know your body best. So start slow and try lots of different things – running, climbing, kayaking – there are so many different things to do. So just try it! Try out a club, meet new people – and that benefits your mental health too! Mental health is massive when dealing with your Crohn’s or Colitis so exercise is really important.’
“What are the benefits of exercise for you?”
‘There were lots of anxieties about my health so doing exercise has been a really positive step in me feeling more confident in my body again. My mental health has improved as a result of doing it – I feel less stressed, less anxious. It gives you a sense of control which we lose when we are patients – and I don’t think clinicians really understand that. Having spoken to you about your app – I think it’s great that you’re putting patients back in control – it’s excellent.’
‘You never regret doing it, you might not feel like it at the start but by the time you have finished you’re really pleased you have done it. Any time that you can find is better than nothing, even 10 minutes can help you and improve your mood so it’s worth having a go! And find what you enjoy!’ – Katie
Take your time, you’re not fighting against anyone. Fight against yourself to become better and better. Keep yourself fit boys and girls – WOOOOOO!’ – Hamza
‘Find something that you enjoy – we tend to look at exercise like a chore. You don’t HAVE to go to the gym. I live by the beach and go climbing on the rocks – that’s physical activity! You don’t have to do a specific sport. Just keep moving – that’s so important. If it’s something you’ve not really done before, maybe look to do it with some other people as it can motivate you. Start slow and don’t set too many goals. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.’ – Seb
‘Just go out and do it! Even if it’s raining like today! Being outside, being with other people, it’s free!’ – Alec
‘When you first start out, everything hurts, you think ‘am I overdoing it? Or hurting myself’ Over a period of time you get a euphoric buzz from doing it. Start slow and listen to your body. There are coaching plans and sometimes they are too intense to start with so listen to your body, do it when you are feeling well… and just do it!’ – Andrew
‘Exercise makes you less stressed, releases endorphins and makes you happy – and all of that I think is linked to controlling symptoms of Crohn’s. My symptoms are often linked to stress so if I’m not stressed then I’m not ill. If you don’t exercise at the moment – these charity runs are great! It’s motivating to meet other people, spurs you on to do it with other people! I like football and so I’m committed to specific training days which helps me fit it into my routine’ – Emma
Ampersand Health would like to thank our partners, Crohn’s and Colitis UK for hosting Run The Night and enabling us to get involved! Speaking to the community helps us develop high quality tools within the app. We are looking forward to sharing our exercise component to the app in 2020.
To view the Crohn’s and Colitis pictures of Run The Night click here.
To take our survey ‘Exercise and You’ click here – We’d love to hear more about your experience with Exercise.
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