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Survey will shine a light on whether physios encourage patients to explore 'active travel' options

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Pedal power: cycling with a toddler on board is an example of 'active travel' (stock image')

Power Diary 3rd May 2022
Power Diary 3rd May 2022

Rhian Hunter is hoping that at least 100 physiotherapists will respond to her invitation to take part in a survey that focuses on the promotion of active travel options.

She is conducting the survey as part of a pre-registration Masters course in physiotherapy at Queen Margaret University Edinburgh, which she hopes will lead to a long career in the profession.

In response to a question posed by PhysioUpdate on her aims, Rhian said: ‘We don't know if physiotherapists promote active travel currently, or what they think about it. They are potentially at the forefront of sustainable healthcare.’

Human and planetary health interests

What piqued her interest in the topic? ‘My supervisor, Jenna Rhodes – who is now on maternity leave and was replaced by Professor Marietta Van der Linden – came up with the dissertation topic, which I chose as it matched my interests in physiotherapy and the environment.'

Rhian noted: ‘Both human and planetary health are close to my heart. I studied biology first, specialising with a PhD in biodiversity and then travelled and had a family. For the last few years, I worked part time to fit around school hours but didn't feel satisfied and needed to restart my career. I really enjoyed encouraging other mums to do fundraising fitness challenges with me and was impressed by physio training plans for events and following surgery.' 

Career switch

'I've had an interest in physiotherapy since I graduated with a BSc in 1991. Making this career change has been the best thing ever, I feel a great new sense of purpose!'

In the past, Rhian founded and ran a community car share club, which meant she relied more on walking and cycling to get herself and her family around the local town, and only used a car or bus for longer journeys.

The climate emergency remains a threat. It's scary and we don’t want to think about it. We still need to find as many ways as possible to reduce our carbon emissions and air pollution [Rhian Hunter]

'Good for me and the planet'

'This got me thinking about my journeys more,' she noted. 'We live in a semi-rural area, so public transport isn't always an option. I also love getting out on my bike for exercise and with family and friends to socialise. Walking and cycling definitely helped me survive mentally through lockdowns as well as keeping me physically active. My mentality is to work active travel into my life whenever I can, because I know it's good for me and the planet.

‘This might mean walking or cycling part of the way to placements to make up my 150 minutes of recommended moderate exercise or filling my cycle bags at the shops and having a strength workout uphill on the way home!

'My husband prefers Spinfit for an intense workout, but I've managed to persuade him to cycle the five minutes it takes to get to the leisure centre now instead of driving (during summer at least!). It's just making people think about ditching the car for those local journeys whenever possible.'

Rhian started circulating the questionnaire at the end of May and had collected 37 responses by mid-July, promoting it through social media and academic networks. The survey is open to all physiotherapists working with adult clients and Rhian hopes she will have gained a range of views for her MSc dissertation study by the end of the month.

'I'm leaving the survey open longer, but will use data up to the end of July for my Masters paper,' she said. 'Ideally, I'd like to reach 100 respondents and write a journal article on this topic.' 

Climate emergency

Speaking exclusively to PhysioUpdate as the authorities were issuing stark warnings about an impending heat wave hitting the UK, Rhian added: ‘The climate emergency remains a threat. It's scary and we don’t want to think about it. We still need to find as many ways as possible to reduce our carbon emissions and air pollution.’

To find out more, visit: https://qmu.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/active-travel-promotion-by-physiotherapists-final-version

Twitter: @rhian_hunter

Power Diary 3rd May 2022
Power Diary 3rd May 2022
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