Residents in St Helens Borough are more active than ever – with more than 93,000 completing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical exercise a week.
Latest figures from Sport England’s Active Lives Adult Survey show that participation in the area is up nine per cent on last year, particularly driven by women and older adults aged 55 and over – groups that the council has focused on with projects to support people to get active.
For women, weights, interval and gym sessions have seen a significant increase in popularity, while for older people, walking, running, weight sessions and gym sessions have grown in popularity.
A shining example of this is the work being done through the public health-funded Fit Forever programme, run by St Helens Sports Development, which offers a diverse range of activities including walking football, indoor bowls through to racquet sports like badminton and table tennis and are tailored to people aged 60 and above.
Sixty-year-old Bernadette, who has been coming to the group since January, is just one of many residents feeling the benefits of Fit Forever.
Bernadette said: “Completely by chance I came down here to start coming to the gym and I was enjoying that but when I spotted this group I thought ‘no that’s more me’. All the girls are lovely, we have fun, we have a laugh and we work hard.
“From being a complete fitness freak back in the day. I had two or three years where I was not in a good place physically and mentally, since I’ve been coming here I’ve come on in leaps and bounds, I’m healthier, I do yoga and Pilates at home, I walk the dog and I’ve made lovely friends. It’s absolutely essential to your wellbeing, mental and physical, and we love it.”
The report also makes clear the mental health benefits of being active. When asked to rate their mental health on a scale of 0-10, active people reported feeling:
· More satisfied with their lives
· More likely to feel the things they do in life are worthwhile
· Less anxious.
Commenting on the latest findings, Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Libraries, said: “It’s great news that a record number of people are now active every week.
“It shows us that efforts by the council, our partners and the hundreds of volunteers across the borough to help more people get active are starting to make a real difference, particularly for older adults, women and those with a disability or long-term health condition.
“Being active has positive benefits for mental and physical wellbeing, strengthens communities and helps build confidence and resilience.
“Every single person in the borough should have the opportunity to take part in sport and activity – and we look forward to working with partners in the community and promoting a packed agenda for 2020 to help increase these figures even further.”
To find out about health and fitness programmes available in the borough, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/culture-sport-leisure/sports-development/