YVONNE FOVARGUE MP - Olympics should inspire us to healthier lifestyles

A “HEALTHY mind in a healthy body,” so the saying goes...

And after this summer’s festival of sport I hope that many more people will get active across the borough.

Sport is very much part of the social fabric of Wigan.

Thousands of people enjoy the many benefits associated with a lifelong involvement in sport, as participants, spectators or volunteers.

Many bring sporting opportunities to their communities through their work, such as a PE teacher or a coach in a local sports club.

Sport has the ability to overcome social barriers and empower individuals.

It can help to reduce social exclusion, promote lifelong learning and provide opportunities for engagement in community life through voluntary work.

Together, this coalition of people from varying backgrounds and lifestyles show that sport can really make a difference in enhancing people’s lives.

Sport often promotes regeneration of areas and “joined up” ways of working.

We have two excellent local examples of this with sport at the centre of both at Robin Park and Leigh Sports Village – our council have been at the vanguard of these developments and there are many other examples across the borough.

Since my election, I have been privileged to be able to visit local sporting groups and I am always delighted to see the enthusiasm, commitment and dedication on display.

With a significant decline in manual occupations, increasing use of the car and almost universal access to a wide range of labour-saving devices in the home, the contribution that sport can make to people’s activity levels has become increasingly important.

As a nation we face the challenge of obesity. Participation in sport and an active lifestyle have long been associated with benefits to health.

This relationship seems obvious and is now backed by a strong body of research evidence that physical activity leads to significant health gains.

These can also be achieved by frequent, moderate levels of physical activity, such as cycling and brisk walking.

So if this summer’s festival of sport leads many more local people to take up a sport or to take a Sunday morning stroll through the green heart of the borough, or cycle along the network of safe cycle routes then we will be a richer community for it.