New strategy to boost health and fitness in East Northants

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A new strategy has been drawn up to improve healthy and active lifestyles in East Northants.

It is aimed at building a healthier and more active community through increased participation in sport, physical activity and active recreation.

Aims include getting ‘more people, more active, more often in East Northamptonshire’ as well as improved leisure facilities, developing sustainable plans for future leisure provision, an increase in the proportion of adults and children with a healthy weight and working with other groups to ensure greater access to activities.

Statistics in a report due to be considered by councillors show that 69 per cent of over 18s are overweight or obese in East Northants, which is above the national average of 64 per cent.

During 2015/16, 58.6 per cent of people in East Northants did no sport.

Those who participated in sport at least once a week was 30.2 per cent and those who participated three or more times a week was just 13.8 per cent.

The report also raises concerns about the provision of sport and recreation in East Northants in the next few years, including:

- Current sports hall provision is below the regional and national average and they will need a further 17 courts by 2021

- The area surrounding Oundle is entirely reliant on facilities at Oundle School, creating a risk to provision in the area and an issue with accessibility and times they are available to the public

- A shortfall of swimming pool provision forecast by 2026

- A further 148 health and fitness stations will be required by 2021 based on population growth and demand, which they say will be particularly apparent in Rushden

The strategy has been published just after Freedom Leisure took over the running of the council’s leisure services.

And the report states: “There are several demographic groups in the district whose engagement in sport and active recreation is well below the national average.

“We will target our efforts and resources on those who are least represented, such as girls, women and disabled people, in addition to those in lower socio-economic groups and older people.

“This will be achieved through working with Freedom Leisure and tailoring programmes aimed at these groups.

“We also recognise the importance of ensuring that children enjoy sport and active recreation and it is vital that young people are kept engaged to promote active lives.”

Swimming and cycling are among the skills they have said they want to promote with children.

And the report also says: “We have invested in our existing leisure facilities and over the next five years we will evaluate the need for a new leisure centre in Rushden.

“The Rushden East development will create significant new demand and we need to provide facilities that the community needs and deserves.”

East Northants Council’s policy and resources committee will be asked to adopt the new healthy and active lifestyles strategy at its meeting at 7pm on Monday (April 24) at the council offices in Thrapston.