ukactive chief backs ‘healthy towns’ strategy

Blog by: Suryakant Tripathi

Under proposals, those who meet weekly activity targets could be offered discount gym memberships, savings on weekly supermarket shopping and sports gear, or free cinema tickets. Plans would also see housing developers offering free bikes with new homes, while streets could feature public gyms, adventure areas, and sprint tracks.

NHS England’s Healthy New Towns program, which was launched in March 2016, looks at how health and well-being can be placed at the heart of urban design and planning. The aim is to reduce pressure on the NHS by radically rethinking how people live.

The vision moved a step closer after NHS officials examined schemes, with Citiesmode, a London-based city planning consultancy, winning a design competition for Halton Lea in Cheshire. “Halton Connected” includes an urban obstacle course, connecting public gym equipment and sprinting tracks marked out on safe pavements.

“If there’s to be a much-needed wave of housebuilding across England, let’s ‘design-in’ health from the start,” Simon Stevens, NHS England chief executive, told the Daily Telegraph:

Backing such ideas, ukactive urged the Government to “rip up the rulebook for town planning” and “embrace innovative solutions to get people back on their feet”.

ukactive chief executive Steven Ward said that incentivized gym memberships could provide a creative method to encourage people to be active, adding that “incentivization has worked in supermarkets to make us buy more food so why shouldn’t it work for getting people more active?”

Ward said there were opportunities for gyms and leisure centers to help make “physical activity the beating heart of Britain’s healthy towns”. He called for a £1bn (US$1.3bn, €1.1bn) investment in Britain’s leisure facilities to create wellness hubs as the focal point of these new healthy towns – harnessing the physical activity sector as a new preventative frontline for the NHS.

The final Halton Lea plan and delivery strategy are due to be announced in January 2018.

As part of the consultation, a group of 11-16 year-olds will discuss the barriers they face to being more physically active with Dr. Dai Lloyd AM,

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