Sheffield must invest in creating a much fitter and healthier city, says Westfield Health chief
The World Health Organisation has estimated increasing physical exercise would save five million lives and $68 billion.
This, together with its benefits shown throughout the pandemic and the risks associated with not doing so, should stimulate action both individually, organisational and governmental as the arrival of vaccines gives us hope for a safer future.
Sheffield is fortunate to have easy access to the Peak District, many parks and, due to foresight of our council, numerous sports and leisure facilities, complemented by numerous commercial operators. However, their maintenance and improvements are a discretionary expense that has to compete with other demands.
National Government must now realise that the economy and health are inextricably linked and fund local government to properly resource such facilities as a mandatory obligation.
During the current crisis pavements were widened and some city centre roads narrowed and blocked. As we recover from the coronavirus we have to move to making more areas traffic free to stimulate cycling and walking in the interests of our health.
However, in doing so, I am sure the new SCC leadership recognises the need to effectively communicate the benefits, mitigate the negatives and ensure there is sufficient support from all stakeholders to make this a permanent feature.
Individually we can take more responsibility for our own health by exercising more. Just walking a few extra steps will be beneficial as not everyone will be motivated to attend gyms. However, those that are interested find they are not at all intimidating to newcomers and such operators are experienced in welcoming and supporting newcomers, as I myself found.
Employers also have seen the benefits of healthy employees being productive ones and enlightened ones, seeing investment in health and well-being as a shrewd investment not a cost.
Public transport will be key to having a healthier city and extending provision and opening up disused railway stations would have enormous benefit.
The opportunity is there for a healthier country and bold investment in every locality that will pay dividends.
The pandemic has been too costly in lives and livelihoods not to take it.
In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.