New call to the people of Somerset to 'Be Active and Be Healthy'

Shocking figures published last week show 27 million adults in England are not getting enough exercise. We should aim to do at least 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days of the week. It doesn't have to be a sport; it can be gardening, going for a walk or having a good spring clean, as long as it is enough to get you warmer and breathing a little heavier.

Regular physical activity not only gets you out and about in the fresh air but it is important to help prevent major disease like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Public health advisors warn that the obesity epidemic which is taking hold in Somerset is already costing the local NHS an estimated £7 million pounds each year to treat. (This is the cost equivalent of 1,000 hip operations)

NHS Somerset (aka Somerset Primary Care Trust) is working with its partners in the county and district councils and the voluntary sector to help get everyone aware of the need to take more exercise and eat a healthy, balanced diet.

Dr Caroline Gamlin, Director of Public Health for Somerset, says: "Physical activity is the key to reducing the rising levels of obesity we are seeing across the country and here in Somerset. You don't have to spend lots of money to get active. Dancing, swimming and walking are very good ways to improve your levels of fitness. Even taking the stairs instead of using the lift can make a difference. We all have to fight the couch potato culture and look to improving the well being of ourselves and our families.

"In Somerset, we are fortunate to live in a beautiful environment with miles of footpaths close to our front doors, making it easier to get out and about and active. If you combine physical activity with eating a healthy, balanced diet you really can avoid piling on the pounds and reduce your risk of being one of the 9,000 people who die prematurely in England each year from obesity related disease."

In Somerset successful physical activity schemes include:

- The county wide 'Walking to Health' programme. Health walks are free and led by volunteers. They provide a structured walk in a safe, friendly and sociable environment.

- 'Active Somerset' is a programme that was set up to increase the opportunities for adults to participate in a wide range of enjoyable activities in their local community. It has supported over 100 new activities to be set up across the County since April 2007 ranging from pilates, tai chi and buggy walks to tennis, running and belly dancing!

If members of the public want to know about the physical activity schemes taking place where they live they should contact their local Active Lifestyle Officer. They can be contacted at:

- MENDIP - 01749 648999
- SEDGEMOOR - 01278 436439
- SOUTH Somerset - 01935 462347
- TAUNTON Deane - 01823 273088
- WEST Somerset - 07725 957335

Members of the public should also be aware of a new national campaign called 'Change4Life'.

The scheme aims to show young and old how their can improve their health and well being and 'Eat Well, Move More and Live Longer".

To find out more about the scheme go online to: nhs/Change4Life


The Chief Medical Officer recommends 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 days a week for adults

Moderate physical activity is defined as activity which causes an individual to feel slightly warm, breathe slight heavier and increases the heart rate.

Approximately 9% of deaths could be avoided if people who are currently sedentary did at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise, five days a week. This includes over a third of all deaths due to coronary heart disease.

Physical inactivity costs the NHS £1.8 billion a year and the wider economic costs of sickness and early death may be as high as £8.3 billion.


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