Concern over lack of exercise as Wigan residents are among the region's least active

People in Wigan are among the least active in the North West, with three out of 10 residents saying they do less than half an hour of exercise a week, worrying new figures reveal.

Friday, 25th October 2019, 9:31 am
Pupils at Woodfield Primary School take part in the daily mile
Pupils at Woodfield Primary School take part in the daily mile

Sport England asked 988 Wigan residents about their exercise habits as part of its annual Active Lives survey.

Of these, 30 per cent said they did less than 30 minutes of exercise a week.

This placed the area eighth worst out of the region’s 41 local authorities.

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A further 12 per cent said they were fairly active, doing between 30 and 149 minutes of activity, while just 58 per cent managed to get at least 150 minutes of exercise – the threshold for an “active” lifestyle.

The NHS says adults aged between 19 and 64 should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week to stay healthy.

This could include cycling over flat ground, brisk walking, or water aerobics.

They should also do strength exercises such as yoga, pilates, or lifting weights twice a week.

Almost 178,000 people across England were polled for the latest survey, which revealed a record 63 per cent of people were active.

It also found the lowest ever number of inactive people since the survey began in 2015, at just 25 per cent, with improvements driven by women and older people doing more exercise.

Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said the improvements were excellent news, but that more needed to be done.

He said: “It shows us that efforts 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.

“But we can’t be complacent. Within the overall positive picture of these figures is a sobering reality – if you are well-off, you are far more likely to be active than if you’re on a low income or less affluent.

“While there are complex barriers that stop less well-off people from getting active, this is an unacceptable inequality and one we’re starting to address in the work we are doing across the country.”

According to the survey, the poorest people are the most likely to be inactive – 33 per cent did less than half an hour activity, compared to just 16 per cent of the wealthiest people.

They were also the least likely to be active, with just 54 per cent doing 150 minutes of exercise compared to 72 per cent among the more affluent group.

Prof Kate Ardern, Wigan Council’s director for public health said: “We know the difference being active can have on physical and mental health and that’s why we are supporting a number of campaigns in the borough.

“One of those being The Daily Mile in our schools and nurseries which encourages children to exercise every day and we’re seeing it have such a positive impact on the physical, social and emotional wellbeing of our children.

“There is a range of outstanding community clubs across our borough that give our young people access to safe opportunities for physical activity and great coaching and development, many of whom have benefited from funding through The Deal.*

“The council has also recently opened a new £6m development of Robin Park Leisure Centre which includes a state-of-the-art gym which reinforces our commitment to providing more fitness opportunities in the borough.

“By promoting nutrition and exercise and working in partnership with Inspiring healthy lifestyles and our other partners across health and education, we remain committed to improving health in Wigan borough.”

In the last month being a community project in Marsh Green run by the Wigan Athletic Community Trust has benefited from the Deal for Communities Investment Fund. The cash will support local eight to 19-year-olds in Marsh Green, Ince and Leigh in a bid to reduce anti-social behaviour and encourage more to be active.

The survey found that those who were active reported feeling less anxious, and had higher levels of happiness and life satisfaction.

Nigel Adams, minister for sport and civil society, said: “Every single person in this country should have the opportunity to take part in sport and activity.

“It is not only good for our physical health but it also boosts our mental well-being and makes people happier.

“Sport England is rightly focusing on further increasing participation so that people from all backgrounds can get, and enjoy being active.”