We all know that being fit and active is key to a healthy lifestyle, but each year more than 5 million deaths around the world are linked to physical inactivity; that is a similar number to lives lost to smoking, and a higher figure than that caused by obesity.
In England, lack of physical activity causes up to 37,000 premature deaths per year.
That is why I’m supporting National Fitness Day, and encouraging people to make small, but significant, changes to their everyday lives which will get them active, and ultimately improve their health.
The evidence for this is clear: an inactive person spends 37% more days in hospital and visits the doctor 5.5% more often than an active individual.
That is why fitness should play a huge role in our dialogue on healthy lives, and why we should invest in physical activity in order to encourage and celebrate physical activity from an early age.
As the Shadow Minister for Public Health, I am committed to ensuring that our children grow up to be some of the healthiest in the world.
That means promoting a healthy lifestyle that includes both eating healthily and physical activity.
But currently our children aren’t getting the exercise that they need.
Just one in ten pre-school children currently meet recommended physical activity levels.
Among 5 to 15-year-olds, 4 in 5 boys and 5 in 6 girls do not reach the recommended levels of physical activity, this could have huge physical and mental health implications for them as they grow older.
We have an obesity crisis in this country with one in three children leaving primary school either overweight or obese, and children just aren’t playing outside or getting active anymore. Changing this is paramount if our children are going to grow up to be some of the healthiest and fittest children in the world.
When in Government, the Labour Party introduced free swimming for children and made it compulsory for schools to teach at least 2 hours of PE each week. Both these policies were scrapped by the Coalition Government in 2010.
That is why I support initiatives such as Sainsbury’s Active Kids holiday clubs, in partnership with ukactive and Premier Sport, as they encourage children to get active over the summer holidays and introduce them to a number of different physical activities.
When I visited an Active Kids holiday club during the summer holidays, I was pleased to see the children enjoying the activities available, such as tennis, gymnastics and circus skills.
Initiatives such as the Active Kids holiday clubs are unfortunately few and far between and children don’t always have access to safe places to play sports, and participation can be cost prohibitive for some parents.
That is why I support ukactive in their ambition to improve the health of the nation by getting more people, more active, more often, and why I will work with them to ensure that children play a huge part in this ambition so that our children can grow up to be some of the healthiest and fittest in the world.