Steven Naismith last week helped launcha new scheme topromote active lifestyles across Merseyside.
Be Active: Be Healthy, the brainchild ofLiverpool City Council and Liverpool PCT, will aim toimprove the health of everyone across the region regardless of age or ability.
The Scottish international joined Paralympian David Devine, who secured two bronze medals in the 800m and 1500m races at London 2012, Taekwondo middleweight worldchampionJimmy McGinn and city health bosses at Wavertree Sports Park to encourage residents to take up exercise to improve their health.
A recent report revealed that approximately 80,000 adults and 13,000 children in Liverpool are obese, only 21 per cent of adults are active enough to benefit their health, and only one in three boys and one in fivegirls aged 9-11 are involved in physical activity for one hour a day. If current trends continue, itis alsopredicted that by 2020 nearly one third of residents will be overweight.
Naismith said: “It is really important to understand that you do need to have a healthier lifestyle if you want to live longer. I think the increase in media, gaming and social media has definitely had an impact on the health of young people and changed the habits of children and you don’t see them out playing football or sports as much anymore.
“When I was younger,when I came in from school it was straight back out with a football and you were out until it was dark. Nowadays there is so much technology and media and social media that drives children away from the old fashion type of getting out and playing sport and running about in the streets. That’s what’s probably created the problem, so the more people that are pushing for a better lifestyle the better.”
The strategy, which runs from 2012 to 2017, addresses these issues with recommendations on how much exercise different age groups should undertake each week.
It alsooutlinesthe various organised exercise activities which take place regularly in the city and highlights affordable ways of keeping fit,including the use of green spaces in the city and making small lifestyle changes such as taking the stairs where usually someone would use a lift or escalator.
Its main aim is to increase participation in physical activity by two per cent each year, a goal which will be measured throughout the process by the independent Active People Survey.
Assistant Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Councillor Helen Casstles, who also attended the launch, said: “The main aim of this strategy is to ensure each Liverpool resident has the opportunity to be physically active every day of their lives.
“We want exercise to become part of everyone’s routine. Even though the city has made great strides over recent years with more people getting active, the figures around obesity remain shocking.
“Hopefully with such a sporting line-up to launch the strategy we will encourage people to think seriously about the health implications surrounding being inactive and inspire them to get fit.”
For more information about the exercise initiative, visit Liverpool.gov.uk