Playing fields, the green hearts of local communities

Anonymous 27 September 2017

If like me you are a fan of Clint Eastwood, you would have heard him point out in numerous movies that saying sorry is a sign of weakness. I would disagree and claim that it can be a line in the sand and a turning point for things getting better.

I was in this very position a few weeks ago speaking to a group of women taking part in our new project Green Hearts at Douglas Eyre Sports Centre. I said, “Ladies, I have an apology to make. Over the last 28 years at this playing field I have focussed solely on organised sport and ignored the needs of people living in the neighbourhood who don’t play in teams. But from to-day all that will change. This field will now mean something to you because we are going to extend a welcoming, safe and secure environment where you can exercise on a regular basis.”

Having been inactive for some time, the women were keen to break the cycle but wanted something that was simple to access and didn’t make them feel embarrassed. The benefits of exercising on a regular basis are well known and a recent report from Public Health England claims that brisk walking for as little as 10 minutes every day can:

  • Improve your mood
  • Improve your fitness
  • Improve your quality of life
  • Increase body leanness and healthier weight
  • Lead to a 15% reduction in the risk of early death

The report also states that one in five 40-60 year olds are inactive and this same group constitutes the majority of people with long term health problems. Green Hearts sets out to address the reasons why people are reluctant to do what they know they should by taking a completely non-judgmental, customer focused approach.

The project provides a mile-long grass track marked by quarter mile posts that makes it easy for participants to walk, jog or run at their own pace and at a time of their choosing. Weekly sessions led by a Green Hearts Activator, which provide guidance on walking/jogging and running technique and safe stretching, are organised to give participants the confidence to exercise alone or with others. Being active with friends in a non-threatening environment does wonders for self-esteem and it has been great to witness the increase in confidence shown by the participants. If we could bottle the benefits of regular exercise it would be a miracle cure.

Next on the agenda are healthy lifestyle workshops with the first one focusing on preparing meals with less fat content.

Early indications have been very encouraging and, after seeing the smiling faces of the Green Hearts participants, unlike Clint Eastwood, I certainly don’t regret saying sorry.

For more details on Green Hearts and the official launch on 30th September please contact LPFF Projects Manager Jo McKenzie on jo.mckenzie@lpff.org.uk