Sheffield shakes itself to leap up fitness league table

Sheffield park runners - including Dr Ollie Hart, wearing the green top - in action.
Sheffield park runners - including Dr Ollie Hart, wearing the green top - in action.

Sheffield has jumped up the league table for keeping fit and active.

It has leapt from 206th to 16th out of 326 local authorities over five years in the latest check on adults taking exercise at least once a week.

The biggest improvements have been among females and 35+ age groups.

Sheffield scored higher than all the other big cities on one measure, and the figures are a boost for its attempts to be recognised as the fittest in the UK.

“I am not surprised to see Sheffield flying up the listings, becoming one of the most active cities in the country,” said Dr Ollie Hart, who is leading a campaign to encourage more of a fitness culture.

“We have stated a real commitment to helping to make it easier for people to move more and be active. This can be playing sport, and it’s fantastic to see, on the back of a home Olympics, more people are getting involved.

“We know many people still find it hard to fit activity into their lives, so we’ll continue to push for better access to enjoyable activities, safer environments, great support and top class facilities.”

The ‘Move More, Do Something’ campaign was launched last month to encourage more physical activity to help people live longer. It is backed by the council, the NHS, universities, the Chamber of Commerce, emergencies services and voluntary groups.

In particular, civic leaders are aiming to reduce the health and fitness gap between Sheffield’s prosperous and more deprived communities, part of a stubborn health divide in the city, and to address high levels of obesity.

The latest figures, from Sport England, measure levels of exercise in terms of at least one 30 minute session a week.

It can range from joining one of the city’s health walks for people of limited mobility to running and climbing in the Peak District.

Activity levels have gone up across the country, but one possible explanation for Sheffield’s rise up the table is the post-Olympic surge in fitness and surge allied to the city’s sports and leisure infrastructure.

Dr Hart, a GP, said: “As a doctor I know being active is more important in creating good physical and mental health than most of the medicines I prescribe. I am looking forward to the energy and buzz we can continue to build around the Move More campaign.”

Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “I’m particularly pleased to see a significant increase in people shifting from inactivity to at least 30 minutes of activity a week.

“Being more physically active is the most significant health protecting behaviour we can all adopt.

“We know Sheffield is a great place to be active given our network of parks and proximity to the Peak District. Equally, our pools and sports centres play a major role and our current £24m investment in replacement facilities will boost activity levels further.”