According to Government guidelines, adults should try to be active for at least 30 minutes five days a week.
But not everyone is able to fit exercise into their busy working lives. A report for the Department of Health suggested that “sedentary behaviour” - a lifestyle with no or little physical activity - could lead to obesity and other health problems. This includes spending too much time watching TV, on the computer, or playing computer games.
Now North Tyneside Council has started the new Active North Tyneside campaign to help combat such problems.
The authority’s sport and leisure, and public health teams have been working together on the venture, driven by the views of residents across the borough.
This has resulted in a programme of activities to encourage people to ‘move more, live more’.
Marietta Evans, director of public health, said: “Physical activity is good for us. It helps fight disease, lower stress, boost confidence and even a little extra activity, done regularly, can make a big difference to someone’s health.
“We know that unfortunately there are some serious inequalities in the health of people who live in some parts of the borough compared to others. There can be a difference in life expectancy of up to 11.6 years.
“We are also concerned that over half of our adult population and around a third of our children are overweight. That’s something we take very seriously and that’s why we have brought together our leisure and health teams for Active North Tyneside.”
To make sure Active North Tyneside has the right mix of activities to encourage people to take part, the team talked to more than 160 residents at different places across the borough, with a further 480 completing an online questionnaire.
Ms Evans added: “Around a quarter of the people we have spoken to have said they are taking part in physically activity five times a week, but this varies in different parts of the borough.
“People who don’t take part in activities have a variety of reasons, mainly because of a lack of time, lack of energy or because of the costs involved.
“We are trying to engage with those people and find ways to deal with the issues. For example, we are working with community organisations to encourage free or low cost activities. Walking is a free activity and we are training more volunteers to be walk leaders who can lead walking groups.
“For people who don’t have a lot of time, we are trying to encourage them to involve activities in their everyday lives. They can walk or cycle to work, walk to the shops instead of jumping in a car or be more vigorous with their housework.
“We are also trying to work with residents who are at risk of illnesses or have disabilities, who may feel they are physically unable to take part in activities. We can try to address these issues, for example by adapting equipment to cater for anyone with a disability.”
Paul Youlden, sport and leisure senior manager, said: “The Active North Tyneside message is very simple – ‘move more, live more’. We want people to be healthier and feel happier through being more active.
“Results from our consultation gave a great insight into people’s attitudes to physical activity – whether that’s walking the dog, dancing, or something more structured. That helps us understand how we can support our residents to be more active in a way that will benefit themselves and their families.
“We know that an increase in physical activity alone will see an immediate health benefit but we also know that when this is combined with other lifestyle improvements such as stopping smoking, eating a healthier diet and drinking less alcohol, the benefits are likely to be much greater.”
Activities on offer cover all ages and include walking groups, activities in parks, family boot camps and doorstep sports clubs for girls. More will be added as the programme continues.
The team will regularly refresh the activities on offer, also using different venues so as to be widely accessible to residents, regardless of where they live.
The majority of activities are free and are open to any resident to attend.
Over the coming weeks the team will also be recruiting Community Health Champions, volunteers who will be based in different parts of the borough to encourage and support people in their communities to join in and be more active.
A number of years ago The Journal launched its Great North Fitness Revolution campaign – which is still going strong today – to encourage people of all ages, shapes and sizes to keep active through regular exercise and by adopting a good diet to help reduce obesity levels in the North East.