Searching for a solution to the obesity problem There are also many social benefits: young people will have something much better to do than hang around the streets and join gangs. Older folk will have places to maintain fitness and meet other people.

SWIMMING is excellent exercise but New Zealand is not blessed with many all-weather pools. Rural areas especially have very poor provision and regular swimming is impossible for most country people. The provision of facilities is left to local Councils who have many claims on their funds and are unwilling or unable to increase the rates to provide more pools.  It’s a Health issue and should surely be Government funded as it will save the Health budget. Swimming is excellent for children: German research has shown that swimming from a very young age brings many physical and mental benefits. Older folk and those with physical problems often do very well in a pool.

Some large towns already have commercially operated exercise facilities, which may include a gym, weight training, swimming pool, and aerobic suite. These however attract only those who are already committed to exercise, the younger, fitter, upwardly mobile members of society. Many of the middle aged and less fit would feel out of place. Cost is also a factor: all privately owned centres need to charge a hefty fee to remain solvent and this excludes many who would most benefit. They are situated where there is money!

Auckland’s North Shore, as an example, does have several Leisure Centres. However, SEE THE PRICES! Quite out of the question for anyone but the affluent and dedicated exerciser. Those living only on superannuation are excluded.

NEW ZEALAND should never blindly copy what is done in other countries. However, it is sensible to take a look at what is happening and adapt sensible developments for our conditions.

In BRITAIN some years ago over three hundred Healthy Living Centres have been built, mostly with money from the Big Lotteries Fund. Centres are of many types: where there are already good swimming pools and gyms, the HLCs provide a community base, encouraging everyone to make use of existing facilities and providing advice and assistance. Some of these have done well, while others seem to be less effective or even closed: funding appears to be the problem.  Canada and Australia have also made moves in this direction.

But what is a HEALTHY LIVING CENTRE? It has exercise equipment, usually a pool, space for indoor exercise classes and permanent trained staff who advise and encourage those who want to be healthy, by both exercising and eating well.


pp90fdebe2.jpg and better physical and mental health for all