11 Jul 2006

Funding has also been earmarked to target community parks and open spaces in the hope of turning our environment into a breeding ground of activity. The cash can be used to fund a variety of projects ranging from green gyms to the signage of walking and cycling routes.

The ‘Climbing Higher’ strategy has set the 20-year goal of increasing adult physical activity levels by 1% per annum which equates to an additional 20,000 adults each year undertaking moderate intensity physical activity.

However, a recent Sports Council for Wales survey found that exercise levels across the principality vary dramatically. Only around 34% of the population have undertaken at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity on at least five days of the week.

However, just 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity, such as brisk walking, dancing, aerobics, swimming, skateboarding, gardening or cycling to work, five times a week is enough to reduce the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and obesity in later life.

Sports Minister Alun Pugh sees the investment as an important step forward in helping to achieve this goal.

"This additional investment of £4 million in the health and well being of the people of Wales shows once again that we are serious on delivering on our ambitions as outlined in our sport and physical activity strategy - Climbing Higher.

"In order to enjoy better health, we must get more physically active as a nation and this innovative Active Lifestyles Venues programme will be used to fund improvements to community facilities, making it easier for local communities to become active, whether it's in community centres, village halls, schools or parks.

"My leisure activities include regular cycling and hill walking. As well as being great fun, they offer important health benefits. We also have a wonderful natural environment in Wales, and we want people in Wales to make better use of the free 'green gym' on our doorstep.

"I will be giving more details on how this money will be used, and how communities can access this money when I announce the next steps of Climbing Higher at the end of July."