According to recent research from Public Health England (PHE), more people die a premature death now from inactivity as they do from smoking (come to think of it, have you ever seen an inactive old smoker?). More than 1 in 4 of the population is obese, and this ain’t cheap. Simon Stephens, the chief exec of the NHS no less, reckons obesity could bankrupt the NHS.
The scientific evidence is now pretty consistent, and utterly compelling. According to PHE 5 periods of moderate physical activity (defined as activity which makes you breathe faster, and gets you warm), sustained for half an hour and you are well on your way to defying depression, disease and an early death (sounds good). You can even get away with doing half that if you scale up to vigorous activity, defined as that which gets you out of breath (although if that includes walking down the stairs, you’re in trouble).
At ‘Your Back Yard’ we are, in our small way, trying to help on this front, by providing new, accessible opportunities for people to exercise. For example through our ‘Healthy Living Park’ (HLP) programmes (see more on www.facebook.com/healthylivingpark/) where activities from Zumba to Yoga are put on for free in parks located where health issues are particularly acute.
From the evidence we have collected so far (we are currently doing a third HLP in Bramley, West Leeds) there are some pretty easy quick wins, particularly amongst young people.
A great example being an orienteering session we did in ‘People’s Park’ Halifax last year, in partnership with the local primary school (see photo), 3 separate sessions, for 3 separate classes; year 2, year 5 and year 6. It absolutely poured down from start to finish, and they cared, not a jot! 100 children running around, doing exercise without even realising it, having a great time, and learning some map reading skills into the bargain. What’s not to like? We have a meeting with schools in Bramley West Leeds, next month, hopefully encourage them to do something similar
Other ideas include:
- Birthday parties for kids, not in wacky boring warehouse, but running around in the park!
- Trim trails, in the park, but don’t just install and hope people stumble across them and start using (you know who you are!), put on some programmed activity, through the schools, at weekends etc
- ‘Fit bit’ challenges, again could be based in primary schools, kids love a challenge
So, let’s get active!!
For many inactive people, zumba might well be a step too far, but anyone can manage a brisk walk? This Sunday, 15th October, we are organising a guided walk, setting off from Bramley Fall Park as part of the HLP. Free to all, thanks to funding from Leeds City Council, and including a coffee and a cake half way around. If we get enough people, and someone volunteers to go on the one day walk leader accredited training programme, we could run this every month, how great would that be?
Walking, the best medicine, (or is it that laughter, sure we could manage both!)