The Churches Conservation Trust has teamed up with YMCA Fit and the Ringing Foundation to encourage bell ringing across the UK as a fun and challenging way to keep fit both mentally and physically.
Bell towers all over the UK and some abroad, have teams of ringers of all ages and abilities taking part in one of the oldest British traditions, and since the 2012 Olympics, interest
has been sparked in this ancient and wonderful skill.
Change ringing requires the development of a number of skills, from the physical technique of actually ringing the bell to the mental aspect of call changes and methods.
You do not even have to have any musical ability, if you have a sense of rhythm and can count, you are well on the way.
Bell ringing doesn’t even require a great deal of strength but the activity of ringing will work a majority of the muscles of the upper body, abdomen and even some in the legs…it will certainly keep those bingo wings at bay.
In fact, once you are able to ring, you can be ringing on average, anywhere between 10 minutes and 45 minutes at a time. This makes bell ringing the ideal steady aerobic exercise that the body needs to help maintain heart and lung health.
Carlisle Cathedral’s medieval tower has about 106 steps to the ringing room, so climbing to the belfry can be a workout in it’s own right.
Exercising the brain
The brain plays a very active part in bell ringing; concentrating on the timing of your bell, what the bells in front of you are doing and remembering methods certainly gives it something to think about.
Challenging the brain in this way strengthens the synapses which carry vital nerve signals, resulting in improved cognitive function and memory.
Bell ringers are a very sociable bunch, often visiting other towers to experience different bells and swap notes. With over 5,000 towers in the UK, there is plenty to keep us occupied and you can be assured that once you have the basic skills, you will be welcomed wherever you visit.
Although most bell towers are in or linked to churches, there is no religious pressure and ringers are welcomed from all religions and beliefs.
Carlisle Diocesan Guild of Bell Ringers welcome anybody who has an interest in change ringing and will shortly be holding another open day at the Cathedral, but why wait…if you think this is a skill you would like to learn, then contact us via the comments section at the end of this post or contact the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers to find your nearest tower.
Friday night is practice night at Carlisle Cathedral but we also have a fantastic simulator attached to the bells to allow us some extra curricular activity. Oh Yes, bell ringing has gone all high tech too! There are even bell ringing training apps available for your smartphones, tablets and Computer.
Heritageandhistory.com – More about the bells of Carlisle Cathedral