Cycling health

Research suggests a quarter of the population do less than 30 minutes of exercise a week

Exeter and Cranbrook to pilot new health drive

Exeter and the East Devon new town of Cranbrook are among 12 areas selected to work on a ground-breaking new approach to tackle inactivity in communities, Sport England has announced.

Under the scheme, Exeter and Cranbrook will be a pilot area for a bold new approach to build healthier, more active communities across England.

About £100million of National Lottery funding will be invested in the 12 pilot areas over four years, to create innovative partnerships that make it easier for people in these communities to access sport and physical activity.

Dr Melvyn Hillsdon, Dr Jo Bowtell and colleagues from Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter were responsible for creating the ambitious and comprehensive evaluation strategy that added value to the Exeter bid.

Dr Hillsdon said: “We now plan to recruit a representative sample of around 2,000 people from Exeter and Cranbrook and track their physical activity levels for four years using the latest technology.

“The aim of the evaluation study is to examine who changes their physical activity over the duration of the project and what personal, social, environmental and programme factors were associated with any observed changes.

“The ‘big data’ collected will permit new insights into the lifestyles of Exeter and Cranbrook families that will inform future public health policies to improve the health and wellbeing of all Exeter and Cranbrook residents for many years to come.”

Cllr Phil Bialyk, Exeter City Council Lead Councillor for Sport, Health and Wellbeing, and Chair of the Exeter Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “This is brilliant news and a fabulous early Christmas present for the city.”

Latest research shows that a quarter of the general population (11.5 million people) are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of exercise that gets them slightly out of breath each week.   In Exeter, people are already more physically active than the national average but there are certain groups such as those in lower paid jobs, women and the disabled who struggle to be physically active in their everyday lives.  

By focusing intensely in 12 areas, Sport England and the local partners want to identify better ways to address these stubborn inequalities and break down the barriers that stop people getting active, such as poor transport, safety, cost and confidence.

“Two years ago, Exeter became the most active city in the South West and now we want to go one step further and become the most active city in England.” Cllr Phil Bialyk explains.  “We now need to ensure we improve health and wellbeing for everyone by encouraging 10,000 people who are currently inactive to introduce physical activity as part of their daily lives”.

Councillor Paul Diviani, Leader of East Devon District Council, said: “This announcement is brilliant news for Cranbrook, not only now but for generations to come”.

Rob Bosworth, Chair of the Greater Exeter Sports Strategy Board, said: “The members of the Board are delighted to have played a role in bringing this fantastic opportunity to the area. “It is a real credit to the power of collaboration and a reflection of the commitment and dedication of all our partners who share the city vision of becoming the most active city in the country.”

“Through this pilot scheme we want to encourage wider, collaborative partnerships which look at how all parts of a community can better work together to help the most inactive – from the transport links and street lighting to the quality of parks and open spaces, to how sport and activity is promoted by GPs” explained Jo Yelland, City Council Director responsible for the scheme.

Dr Simon Kerr, GP from Northern, Eastern and Western Devon Clinical Commissioning Group, said:  “The success of this bid creates an exciting opportunity.  The support and the funding that Pilot status will bring will create better opportunities and easier access to many types of physical activities such as walking or cycling schemes, which in turn will have a positive effect on both physical and mental wellbeing for local people who take up the opportunities.  As a GP, I will be able to signpost my patients to these activities when I think it is suitable.”

Councillor Roger Croad, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for public health, said: “This is all about getting people who aren’t normally that active, who might not be into sport or regular exercise, to be a bit more active.  To move a little more.  And this means that we’ll now, as a partnership that includes the many communities across wider Exeter and Cranbrook, be able to come up with some really innovative ways to encourage people to do that.

“We’ll be working with communities to help identify the best way to move forward. We want to make moving a bit more the norm, so we’ll be looking a variety of ideas that make being active easy.”

“One of the reasons we have been chosen for this national pilot is because our ideas for reducing congestion and improving health and wellbeing across the city are backed up with an innovative and unique approach to data analysis, put together with our partners. This will help us to target communities who could most benefit, and actively monitor the impact on health and wellbeing and adapt our approach accordingly,” explained Simon Chant from Public Health Devon

Matt Evans, Chief Executive of Active Devon said: ”I am thrilled that the Exeter and Cranbrook Local Pilot bid has been successful. The bid was made possible by the commitment and collaboration of a wide range of local partners.

“It provides us with a unique opportunity to work together on new ways of tackling the complex challenge of physical inactivity. Active Devon looks forward to supporting the Pilot fully to ensure it is a success and really puts Exeter and Cranbrook on the map as places where being active is a part of people’s everyday lives.”

Julian Tagg, Chairman of Exeter City Football Club and Chairman of City Community Trust, the charity arm of ECFC, said: “We’re delighted to have played a significant part in helping to secure much needed financial help toward the ongoing challenge of improving the Health & Wellbeing of the wider community of Exeter and Cranbrook. As one of, if not the, main provider of activity and health related programmes for all ages across our City, we look forward to rising to the huge challenge that lies ahead in our attempt to make Greater Exeter Greater, Fitter and Healthier.”

Glenn Woodcock, Chief Executive of Exeter City Futures, said: “This is an amazing achievement for Exeter and for the leadership of the city. This is another endorsement of Exeter’s commitment to an analytical, data-driven approach to bringing about a more healthy and sustainable city, suitable for future generations.”

The Local Delivery Pilot programme, working in collaboration with Sport England, will seek to bring a wide range of local partners and communities together across Exeter and Cranbrook to realise the enormous health, social and economic benefits of leading a regular active lifestyle.

Date: 6 December 2017

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