Health Taskforce Sets out a Strategy of Physical Fitness

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Byline: CHRIS MARKS

THE shocking extent of the couch potato lifestyle led by millions of Scots emerged yesterday at the launch of a major new strategy to improve the nation's physical fitness.

More than 70 per cent of men and almost 60 per cent of women face serious health problems due to lack of exercise, while almost one-third of boys and two-fifths of girls are insufficiently active.

A task force set up by the Scottish Executive has produced a raft of recommendations to improve Scotland's physical fitness over the next 20 years.

Top of the list was the appointment of a national physical activity co-ordinator. So Mary Allison, an expert in health and fitness, was yesterday named as the world's first 'fitness czar'.

The Executive also announced a review of physical education in schools.

Health experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate activity a day for adults and a minimum of an hour for children.

Moderate activity is anything which raises the pulse or induces a sweat. It can include climbing stairs or walking the dog.

The draft strategy sets targets of 50 per cent of adults and 80 per cent of children meeting these fitness levels by 2022.

John Beattie, a former Scottish rugby international and chairman of the taskforce, said: 'The message we want to get across is that becoming active is much easier than people think. And you don't have to go to the gym.

'Everyday activities such as walking, using the stairs, playing with the kids or washing the car will all help improve our general health and quality of life.

'If the recommendations are implemented we can create a more active population who can bring massive health and sporting benefits to Scotland.'

The taskforce also recommended a PE review in schools, improved access for young people to a greater range of physical activities, help for adults to become more active, incentives to employers to promote physical activity in workforces and self-help resources and staff to support the elderly living at home.

The report will now be subject to a three-month consultation process.

Speaking at the launch in Edinburgh yesterday, Health Minister Malcolm Chisholm said: ' Collectively as a nation, from childhood through to later life, we are simply not doing enough. …