As lifestyles become more sedentary and the television secures its spot as the centre of hearth and home, there has been a knock-on impact on public health in Britain. It is no surprise then that a population that has stopped prioritising movement, is seeing unprecedented levels of obesity and other lifestyle related diseases. In an effort to counteract the ensuing burden on the NHS of an increasingly unhealthy population, the public sector has undertaken a renewal of investment in health and fitness facilities for the people of the United Kingdom.
One such example is the Newark Leisure Centre which was opened by the council in 2016. Built and managed by Active4Today, the centre has served as health and fitness mecca for residents of Sherwood. The Newark Leisure centre offers a state-of-the-art gym, swimming pool, fitness studio and squash courts for adults and children alike. The provision of quality fitness and lifestyle infrastructure by the council has seen a strong upsurge in the number of district residents participating in healthy, active pursuits.
Including the Newark Leisure Centre, there are three leisure centres serving the area and the swimming pool, commissioned to commence in 2019 and be completed in 2020, is part of an initiative to get more people swimming. This is not only in recognition of the health benefits of swimming, a sport that offers an impressive cardio-vascular workout with little to no impact on the joints, but also as a public service to prevent drownings. It has long been recognised that learning to swim is an essential part of a child’s active development. Water safety and swimming competency is not just about saving lives, it also boosts confidence and self-esteem.
This focus, which is echoed in Newark Leisure Centre looking for the right swimming pool builders, is also part of the UK government’s Free Swimming’ initiative which is funded by five government departments. The momentum for supporting the Free Swimming’ programme is based around local councils ensuring free swimming access for children (16 and under) and for adults (60 and over). There is recognition in all regions of the country, not just Sherwood which hosts the Newark Leisure Centre, that the country will derive health and economic benefits from a population that swims.
One of the reasons the local authority is supporting Newark Leisure Centre looking to build a new swimming pool is because it needs to cater proactively for the increased population numbers in the area. There is a large-scale, new housing development underway on vacant land between Stepnall Heights and Hallam Road. Furthermore, Boughton and Ollerton, two of the most populous areas of Sherwood, are also seeing an increase in the number of people moving into the area. The reality is that the current leisure centre facilities are inadequate to cater to the health and fitness requirements of such a high density of people.
The risk, should the health and wellness infrastructure remain as limited as it is currently, is that an already sedentary population will remain unmotivated to take control of their own lifestyles by making active, healthy choices. A leisure centre that is too far away for convenience means that someone who was considering swimming, will rather choose to watch TV at home. This is why it is so critical to support Newark Leisure Centre looking to build a new swimming pool.