Our children deserve to be properly introduced to the benefits of exercise

A HARD-hitting report out last week showed Glasgow has some of the poorest health outcomes across the whole of the UK.

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The city has the lowest life expectancy in the British Isles, with Glaswegians living on average ten years less than some of their counterparts elsewhere.

Of course, health problems are not a new phenomenon - academics coined the term "the Glasgow effect" years ago to try to explain why people in Glasgow had worse health than those living elsewhere facing similar issues of age, employment, wealth or housing.

This must be turned around if the people of Glasgow are to lead healthy and happy lives.

There is action we can take, and this summer the Commonwealth Games offers us a huge springboard to improve the health and wellbeing of our city.

Long after the elite competitors have left, the city will have the resource of some of the finest sporting arenas in the world on hand for local people to use.

Exercise is one of the best ways to increase health. In addition to the new Commonwealth pool, velodrome and Emirates Arena, Glasgow is the greenest city in Europe, with fantastic parks to run, jog or walk through to kick-start an active lifestyle.

While there is plenty that people can do individually, there are also ways in which the Scottish Government can act to help.

Health indicators start from an early age and we need more health visitors across Scotland so young mums get all the support they need to ensure that their child is healthy and happy from birth right through to starting primary school.

We need to encourage our children to catch the sporting bug early, too.

The SNP promised back in 2007 that if they became the government, every child in Scotland would have two hours of specialist PE teaching a week.

Seven years on, that promise is still unmet.

Until the Government shows a real desire to interest our children in healthier lifestyles the situation will not improve.

Our children deserve to be properly introduced to the benefits of exercise, not just through the amazing facilities Glasgow now possesses but also through the provision of dedicated PE teachers in primary schools who can give pupils the kick-start that is so vital at an early age.

Right now, only three quarters of Glasgow males will reach retirement age at 65.

This isn't nearly good enough, but by giving our youngest generation the best start in life, and developing exercise at school, we can transform the life chances of Glaswegians growing up in the city now.

The Commonwealth Games is the perfect inspiration for us to bring a lasting change to our city.

It will inspire all of us to get off the sofa and do a bit more exercise, but it needs to inspire the Government as well - to make big changes in how we look after our citizens.

That would be a Commonwealth Games legacy worth shouting about.


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