Passport to happy, healthier lifestyle

Getting fit and healthy is not the only reason to get active this summer, as a new Gateshead scheme is planning to reward people in the area for their efforts.

Getting fit and healthy is not the only reason to get active this summer, as a new Gateshead scheme is planning to reward people in the area for their efforts. Health reporter Jane Picken finds out more.

It's hard work getting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise five times a week, but the Summer Hearts campaign in Gateshead could provide an extra incentive.

Gateshead Council has launched the scheme, which will run for 17 weeks until to September 30, giving people the chance to get a `Passport to Free Activities' from the Sport and Leisure team and earn free sessions throughout the summer.

Anyone who wants to take part can collect a passport from any Gateshead Council leisure facility and at various events across the borough.

Each time a 30-minute activity is completed, participants can collect a sticker for their passport.

Every 10 stickers earns a free swim, gym or fitness class - collect 50 stickers and receive a free water bottle.

All passports returned (completed or not) will be entered into a free prize draw to win a range of prizes, including a mountain bike and MP3 player.

The scheme is also part of Gateshead Primary Care Trust's Healthy Heart Week, which took place last week.

To mark its launch, schoolchildren from Caedmon Primary School, in Shipcote, and patients from the Queen Elizabeth's Cardiac Rehabilitation Unit ran or walked one of three new routes around Saltwell Park.

These routes will become permanent features in the park.

The Rose walk is half a mile long; the Dene walk is a mile and the Lake walk a mile and a half. People can follow the yellow, orange or white signs respectively.

Coun John McElroy, cabinet member for Culture at Gateshead Council, said: "Gateshead Council is recognising good health, and whether you take part in a lot of activity already or you want to take the first steps to getting healthier and fitter, Summer Hearts could benefit you.

"All of the family can take part and it takes place across the borough.

"It is recommended you take part in at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week to keep healthy. At Gateshead Council we are constantly working to provide a range of leisure and physical activities that people of all tastes can take part in, whether it's swimming, going to the gym or going on an organised walk in our countryside."

Amanda Healy, public health specialist for Gateshead PCT, said: "We all know the importance of being physically active and this is why the PCT is excited to continue our close working with Gateshead Council and other partners to support people to lead healthier, happier lives."

For more information or to obtain a passport, call (0191) 433 6959 or visit www.gateshead.gov.uk.

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