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UK Government Minister encourages more physical exercise for all

Government Health Announcement from the UK

Public Health Minister,
Caroline Flint

UK Public Health minister Caroline Flint is working across government on a new strategy to increase the public's fitness and activity levels.

The Prime Minister asked Caroline Flint to work across government to develop a strategy building on and developing existing work to transform the population into a fitter and more active nation in the run up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

She will report to Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health and Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Olympics Minister. Speaking at the Rowing World Championships at Dorney Lake, near Windsor, - the venue of the 2012 Olympic rowing and sprint canoeing events - Ms Flint outlined how she intends to fulfil her new physical activity role.

She said:

" We will be working in partnership with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport / Department for Communities and Local Government / Department for Transport / Department for Education and Skills and delivery bodies like Sport England and will build on the good work that has already taken place. We will also look at further opportunities for physical activity across the board and consider the gaps and priorities. By taking the 'Small Change Big Difference' approach we will look at ways we can support the public to make minor changes that will make a long term difference to their health.
_ We need to ensure that sport and active recreation are accessible to all.
_ The biggest gains to health and to the economy will be made by encouraging more physical activity among groups of people who don't normally do any. We want to help people build physical activity into their daily routines and another approach could be encouraging more active travel.We know, for example, that one in five of all car journeys are less than one mile. If we could continue to encourage more people to travel by bicycle or on foot for these journeys we would overcome traffic congestion and improve health.
_ Working with Sport England, the grass roots delivery body, and with private and third sector organisations will be a key aspect of promoting activity, and government funded programmes put into place by the Amateur Rowing Association are being hailed as an example of what can be achieved in partnership."

The need to increase the nation's fitness levels is also highlighted by a new report, due to be published this Friday, which forecasts that there will be a significant increase in adult obesity levels by 2010.

Figures show that if we sit back and do nothing obesity prevalence in men will rise from 22% in 2003 to 33% in 2010.

At the Championship event, the ARA launched a guide to partnerships between Rowing and Health to complement a number of new, innovative rowing programmes, such as the Indoor Rowing in Schools and Adult Learn to Row courses.

Caroline Flint added:

" Programmes such as the Indoor Rowing In Schools will enable many more people to discover and realise an enthusiasm for rowing and activity. Rowing has never been so accessible and case studies demonstrate its power to transform sedentary lifestyles."

Richard Caborn, Minister for Sport added:

" Getting more people to do more sport and physical activity is a priority for us, and there's real scope for us to build on the very good work that is already taking place across the country.

_ Sport cuts across all aspects of life which is why in government we have to work across departments to get people active.

_ The Amateur Rowing Association's indoor rowing scheme is a good example of the impact a club to school link can have. As a result of this initiative, more children - and many who would not have tried the sport before - are participating in a high quality club environment, enjoying themselves, and getting fit."



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