THE number of people using services run by Glasgow Life has soared in recent years.

New figures show visitors to city libraries, museums, arts venues, sports clubs and community facilities are all ahead of target.

The city council arm's length organisation had been hoping to achieve more than 16 million visits by the end of this month.

By December it was ahead of target by 4%.

In the nine months to December 31, there had been 4.1m visits to Glasgow libraries, 2.4m to museums, 273,000 to its arts venues, 4.6m to Glasgow Life sports venues and 1m to community events.

The report also highlights a huge increase in the number of people taking part in sport and exercise.

The figures were released as the Evening Times launched its Active 2014 campaign.

l In October, the Great Scottish Run attracted 23,000 entrants - up 2000 on the previous year.

l So far in 2013/14 almost 1600 people have completed coaching courses - up 53% on the same period last year.

l Attendances at Active Health Programmes were 85,866 in the six months to September last year compared to the 68,714 the previous year.

l In primary and secondary schools, more than 7000 physical activity sessions were organised at breakfast, lunch and after school bet-ween April and September - up by more than 20%.

During its first year, more than 350,000 people enjoyed world class events at the Emirates Arena with 80,000 attendances at the gym and 73,000 at fitness classes.

And the number of junior clubs Glasgow Life is assisting year on year also continues to grow.

The organisation worked with 416 clubs - up from 359 and the number of volun-teers working with the clubs has also increased.

The number of over 60s taking advantage of free swimming is ahead of target, as is the number of times PCs were used in libraries.

And the number of times Wi-Fi was used in libraries is almost 47% ahead of target.

The number of Glasgow Club direct debit member-ship has increased by almost 14% to 33,000 people.

Both the Merchant City Festival and the Glasgow Mela last year attracted record audiences and more than 123,000 people applied for the 13,000 tickets for the switch-on of the Christmas lights.

Glasgow Life chairman Archie Graham, said: "Every day, Glasgow Life makes a positive difference to the lives of citizens of - and visitors to - Scotland's greatest city.

"In every community, our staff are working hard to ensure everyone can lead more active and rich lives, through culture, sport and learning.

"That makes a real difference. Giving people a chance to learn new skills or supporting them through ill-health, helps to change lives for the better.

"While we are known for our big events or iconic buildings, such as Kelvin-grove or the Burrell, it's what we do to offer oppor-tunities for all that help everyone to enjoy every-thing Glasgow has to offer.

"Glasgow is a world-class city, with everything from the record-breaking Jack Vettriano retrospective at Kelvingrove to the World Pipe Band Championships and Celtic Connections.

"When it comes to culture we've got it all and Glasgow Life is at the heart of making it happen.

"And as all eyes turn to Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, staff at Glasgow Life will be at the heart of the action, helping to run iconic competition venues such as the Emirates Arena and Tollcross Inter-national Swimming Centre.

"But more than that, staff are working to develop sports clubs, trained coaches and volunteers so that more people can get fit and active after being inspired by the Games.

"Staff at Glasgow Life are also involved in leading and delivering the cultural celebrations that will see the city come alive before, during and after Games time.

"There is no doubt we are on track and delivering for the people of Glasgow."