Assistant Practitioner who works with mental health service users supporting
them to exercise as part of their recovery at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS
Foundation Trust (NSFT) will take on his own physical fitness test when he
takes part in the world’s largest obstacle course race for charity.
Craig Edwards, who is an Assistant Practitioner in Health and Fitness at
Hellesdon Hospital, Norwich, will run the 40-mile Rat Race, tackling 400
man-made obstacles in the grounds of Burghley House, Peterborough, in
The race is in aid of the charity Children with Cancer UK which aims to improve
survival rates for young cancer patients and to find and reduce the causes of
He will compete alongside other seasoned obstacle course runners on 12 May who
have been selected to run the 20-mile course twice, based on their fitness
Craig, 31, is no stranger to helping others achieve their physical fitness
goals as part of his role at NSFT and is taking on the endurance event as a
challenge of his own, training in his spare time.
“For me, obstacle course running helps me deal with life’s stressors,” he said.
“I’m able to practice mindfulness, focusing on the present and doing what I can
to finish the race. It’s an escape and you don’t know what obstacle is round
the corner – you just have to deal with them as they come.”
Craig, who lives in Norwich, added: “I work with service users across our Adult
Acute inpatient wards, offering health and fitness advice, wellbeing sessions
and supporting them to take part in exercise. While they are in hospital, I
utilise the facilities onsite along with starting to introduce them to fitness
centres, activities and clubs in their local community that they can continue
to use once discharged.
“Physical fitness is an important part of helping people to recover from mental
ill-health. Whether I’m working with someone to run on a treadmill in our gym,
or doing some simple chair-based exercises on the ward, I often see positive
changes to people’s mental wellbeing, almost immediately after we’ve finished
“Exercise definitely lifts my mood and the changes in the service users I work
with can be remarkable. Their confidence is strengthened, they socialise and
interact with others, and it gives them a focus.”
Exercise classes such as salsa dancing, yoga and Tai Chi are run on Rollesby,
Glaven and Waveney wards at Hellesdon Hospital and staff escort service users
to do activities such as beach walks, rock climbing and swimming.
Craig encourages service users to use onsite facilities and see the grounds. “Our
trim trail is very popular, especially in the summer months, as it’s like a
mini obstacle course,” he said. “We can accompany our service users to use our
trim trail where they can have a go on a series of stations with outside gym
equipment. Exercises involve balancing, jumping and other dynamic
“There is also an orienteering route where people can hunt 26 brightly-coloured
boards across the hospital site and solve puzzles along the way.”
Craig works for the Wellbeing and Therapies Team at Hellesdon Hospital, which
includes Occupational Therapists, Occupational Therapy Assistants, Wellbeing
Nurses and Assistant Practitioners. The team supports people who have been
admitted to an inpatient ward to take part in physical activity to help with
their mental health condition.
For more information about Craig’s endeavour and to sponsor him, visit: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/craigEdwards6