Cabinet approved the Active Lives Strategy, which focuses not just on improved access to physical activity but also how aspects like walking and cycling friendly infrastructure schemes can also play a part in making people more likely to choose these ways of travelling more often. It also supports the social and fun side of being active such as walking with friends or volunteering to help at classes or events.
The Covid-19 pandemic saw levels of activity like walking and cycling rise, now that life is returning to normal this strategy will look to harness the move towards a more active life and make it the norm.
The strategy is split into seven themes which look at different areas such as encouraging young people to get active, inclusive measures to reach every part of the community, a focus on activity to help prevent and manage wellbeing and health conditions, community driven campaigns and support for already existing programmes like couch to 5k, Parkrun and the St Helens 10k, and measures to support active workplaces, public spaces and schools.
The plan will aim to encourage everyone to take a step further in getting active like Steph. Steph signed up to the Couch to 5K when her friend asked her to come along.
She said: “I have never ran in my life and used to get out of breath running up the stairs. I loved the session, which I never expected, the team that run the course were very motivational and encouraging. I love the fact that it was on the track as there were different abilities you never thought you were coming last!
“There was no competition, if you wanted to stop if you were finding it hard you could. I have made lots of friends though the programme too.
“I also now do 5km regularly on a Saturday morning at Park Run and completed the St Helens 10km in March which was a major achievement for me five months after not being able to run a minute. I feel much healthier and will take on challenges now that I never thought I would before.”
Welcoming the new strategy Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: “The pandemic has shone a light on the impact health inequalities can have on places like St Helens Borough. Here in our borough almost 70 per cent of adults and 37 per cent of children are overweight or obese. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors to our health that we can all do something about, if you’re overweight you’re more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, high blood pressure and at greater risk of a stroke, vascular dementia and heart disease.
“By moving more, whether that’s playing sport, cycling or even just getting out and walking a bit more, it can also have a huge positive impact on your mental wellbeing.
“We have some fantastic provision for those who want to join a sports club, go to the gym or take a class. We also have an abundance of parks, green spaces for people to enjoy. And whilst many of the borough can and do take up those opportunities there are more who can’t, Our plans aim to help everyone find a way of being more active in the borough, in ways that work for them.”
To see the full report visit moderngov.sthelens.gov.uk/documents/s126107/Appendix 1.pdf