The human body is designed to be active, but modern life is putting a spanner in the works.
Many people now do sedentary jobs, and technology has made life easier than ever before, writes Barry Warne, PCC Green Party candidate, West ward.
However, each Saturday morning, come fair weather or foul, 500 or more fitness fanatics and fresh air fiends gather at Ferry Meadows for Peterborough Parkrun.
The Parkrun brand is huge with events up and down the country and an increasing number overseas. Over 100,000 UK citizens take part in the timed 5k runs every week. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a budding Mo Farah or a recreational walker. Indeed, the organisers are delighted that the average completion time is getting slower as years go by as it shows that many non-runners are becoming involved.
Perhaps as an antidote to the busy and stressful lives we lead, more and more people are turning to outdoor pursuits, a perfect way to improve both physical and mental health.
Peterborough is at the forefront of this revolution, with a green corridor leading into the city centre from Ferry Meadows, much of which is devoted to physical exercise. It’s not uncommon to see whole families playing cricket in Ferry Meadows during the summer.
Meanwhile, there will be cyclists, walkers and joggers passing by.
Alongside Ferry Meadows are two well-used public golf courses and a pitch and putt for the slightly less serious players. The rowing lake is used from dawn to dusk, and the area around it with its riverside, lakeside and woodland walks is a haven for wildlife and people seeking peaceful recreation. Cycle paths run into town from Ferry Meadows on both sides of the river. Approaching the city from the rowing lake one feels distant from the hustle and bustle until you get to Rivergate, and are almost in the heart of Peterborough.
There are many benefits from exercise. Some are obvious, such as weight control and improved physical fitness. Others are perhaps less apparent, but a regime of regular exercise can improve your skin tone, it may help you to relax and enjoy a better quality of sleep. Exercise can increase your energy levels, and perhaps best of all it can raise your libido and improve your sex life!
The social benefits of joining a group of people who exercise can be huge. Walking groups can be a lifeline to the lonely. The list is endless. “If exercise were a pill, it would be one of the most cost-effective drugs ever invented,” says Dr Nick Cavill, a health promotion consultant.
Doctors are tuning into this more and more, and it is not uncommon for GPs to recommend a local Parkrun to people with depression and anxiety, as well as patients who wish to control their weight, or lead a healthier lifestyle. There is a huge potential for the NHS and sports associations to work together.
The people who planned Peterborough have given us something to be proud of and grateful for - a landscape designed for our wellbeing.