The New Year often goes hand in hand with new beginnings, new goals, and new resolutions. For many people, being more physically active comes top of their New Year’s Resolution list. Although most resolutions fall by the wayside by February, being more physically active doesn’t have to be about hitting the gym every week. Simply put, being more active is about getting your body moving more. Taking the stairs instead of the lift, or walking or cycling short trips rather than taking the car, contributes to a more active lifestyle.
This year’s Director of Public Health report focuses on physical activity and how leading a more active lifestyle not only benefits our physical and mental health, but also helps with disease prevention and recovery. As Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England said, ‘If physical activity were a drug, we’d talk about it as a miracle cure’.
It is estimated that the current UK population is 20 per cent less active than in the 1960s. There are many reasons why this is the case. Technology has changed the way we work and the way we spend our leisure time. Fewer of us have manual jobs than in the past whilst many more of us now rely on cars as our means of transport.
The 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, aimed to inspire a generation to take up sport and regular physical activity. The UK government’s pledge to encourage more people to take up physical activity off the back of the Games was a means to forge a healthier and more active future. Ten years on and after a global pandemic, the number of people in Bristol who do the recommended amount of regular exercise each week dropped from 73 per cent between 2015 and 2019 to 67.1 per cent in 2021 according to the Quality of Life survey.
Needless to say, the pandemic years were challenging for many people, but they also taught us about the importance of physical activity. Going out for that daily walk or doing home workouts became highly valued during a time when our movement was restricted.
The report showcases ten inspiring real-life stories where people in Bristol have managed to build physical activity into their daily lives. In some cases, physical activity has helped people overcome the physical and emotional effects of COVID-19. It has also helped to tackle lifestyle-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes as well as facilitated stronger community ties through inclusive activities and programmes.
Swimming pools and leisure centres provide opportunities and environments where people can be physically active. The council’s commitment to invest £8 million across its leisure facilities will ensure these sites continue to cater to a wide range of physical activities, interests, and abilities, whilst providing people the opportunity to find activities that they enjoy.
Please join the movement to be more active in 2023 by taking your own small steps. Programmes such as Bristol Girls Can, FIT Robins and accessible multi-sport events can help you get started. Whatever you’re doing, you will be making a difference. #ActiveBristol