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Benefits of physical activity can include supermarket discounts

Wednesday, 27th June 2012.

A new campaign to raise awareness of the benefits of physical activity to quality of life was launched in Haverhill on Tuesday.

The campaign is focused on St Edmundsbury and its mayor, Haverhill councillor Tim Marks, performed the launch.

The campaign allows people to gain discount at major national stores in return for physical activity they have done.

Cllr Marks said he thought this was such a good idea he hoped the Leisure Centre would be able to cope with the demand that would be placed on it by the influx of people striving to keep fit.

Some of the Haverhill people fronting the campaign were present, as was the chief of Suffolk's Olympics 2012 events Adam Baker, and Haverhill policeman and extreme sports competitor Simon Bourne.

There are five people from Haverhill who are being used to promote the campaign and Haverhill-UK News will carry one of their inspiring stories each day for five days starting tomorrow.

The Active St Eds campaign, run by Abbeycroft Leisure and supported by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Suffolk County Council, NHS Suffolk, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, aims to inspire people to increase their physical activity to improve their quality of life.

It is hoped the campaign will leave a lasting legacy from the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The campaign features ten individuals/families as ‘cover’ stars on a new Inspire Me poster campaign across Haverhill and Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centres and a film to inspire others to fit physical activity into their lives. The film will be premiered at this year’s St Edmundsbury Sports Awards in September.

To help measure the success of the campaign, a new Active Points scheme will be introduced at Abbeycroft Leisure from August where people can collect points every time they take part in an activity at Abbeycroft’s Centres in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill or at one of their many events and activities held in the community. Registration for a leisure card to collect Active Points opens on July 1.

Anyone in the borough can apply for a leisure card and those who are current members of Abbeycroft’s Centres will be able to collect points on their current card.

Every 100 points will be equivalent to 75 pence which can be redeemed against 400 retailers online including Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Argos, Boots, Halfords, PC World, B&Q, Dorothy Perkins, Debenhams, and Peacocks.

Sports clubs, schools, colleges and businesses across St Edmundsbury will also be able to collect points to use as a group or organisation.

Most Active Business and Most Active School competitions will be launched in January 2013, based on the points collected. At the same time an Abbeycroft Leisure Member of the Year Awards scheme will also be launched in January 2013.

In addition, a new Active St Eds web portal has been launched which features real life stories of people from St Edmundsbury whose lives have been improved by physical activity, tips for keeping active, articles on how physical activity can improve quality of life written by local healthcare experts, and details of how to sign up for Active Points.

The campaign will focus on the ‘quality of life’ benefits of activity such as exercise to improve stress management, sleep, anxiety, chronic conditions such as back pain and diabetes, and social benefits such as increased self esteem, improved relationships and meeting new people.

People will be invited to fill out an Active St Eds pledge card which outlines how they will increase their activity in 2012.

Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure, said: “In this Olympic year Abbeycroft wants to inspire people in the borough to start some form of physical activity and understand that the benefits of exercise go beyond the traditional reasons of losing weight and inches.

“We hope the wonderful stories from people who live in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill on how exercise has benefited them and their lives will inspire others in their community to start something to keep active.

"The Active Points scheme we hope will further encourage people with a great way to keep track of how much activity they are doing coupled with the bonus that the more exercise they do the more they save on the High Street.

"With our partners' help we want to spread the word on how you can fit activity into your life and benefit from better sleep, keep stress under control and feel good.”

St Edmundsbury is already leading the way with activity levels. A recent Sport England survey published in December revealed that St Edmundsbury has the highest increase in adult sport participation in the country, and is among the top areas for active young people, women and disability sports.

Sport England’s Active People Survey (APS) showed that between 2006 and 2011 St Edmundsbury had the highest increase in adult sport participation in the country, the highest participation by young people and women in the East and the lowest non-participation in East Anglia.

The survey also showed that St Edmundsbury saw the highest percentage increase for active recreation such as walking and cycling in the UK.

Cllr Sara Mildmay-White, St Edmundsbury Borough Council cabinet member for culture and sport said: “I warmly welcome this initiative and hope that it will provide life-changing opportunities for many of our residents.

"By providing inspiration the scheme helps with that hardest first step to being more active. The people who answer the call create a virtuous circle by inspiring others and they deserve our respect. I hope many will be inspired.”

Tessa Lindfield, NHS Suffolk’s director of public health said the Active St Eds campaign was a great way to encourage people to take some exercise in order to keep active and healthy.

She said: “Exercise is good for you in so many ways and will help increase your muscle tone, boost your metabolism, ease stress, raise energy levels and improve your sleep.

"It can also help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke and high blood pressure. Taking exercise needn’t be difficult or expensive, with walking or cycling an easy way to achieve the recommended 30 minutes a day of activity.”

The campaign will complement Suffolk’s Most Active County initiative launched in February as part of a countywide collaboration with partners across Suffolk to help make Suffolk the most active county in England.

Cllr Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for sport, said: “Active St Eds offers people an easily accessible way of increasing their levels of activity by using an approach that sets realistic goals alongside a motivating rewards scheme.

“I’m sure the project will make a very positive contribution to Suffolk’s ambition to become the most active county in England.”

For more information about the campaign and to sign up for your free leisure card to collect Active Points visit www.acleisure.com/active-st-eds and follow the campaign on twitter at www.twitter.com/AC_leisure #activesteds.

Haverhill Online News

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