A campaign aimed at encouraging residents across Greater Essex to get active has inspired people to take part in more regular sport and exercise, a survey has revealed.
Over 800 participants signed up for the first 30:30 challenge, completing 30 minutes of exercise a day for 30 days throughout June. A survey of participants revealed that 72% are now taking part in more regular exercise because of the initiative.
The challenge was launched by the Active Essex Foundation, a charity which uses sport and physical activity to inspire hard-to-reach and under-represented communities to become more physically active, lead healthier lives, raise aspirations and confidence, and improve mental health.
Currently, one in five Essex residents do not take part in any physical activity or sport, with levels of inactivity highest among people on low incomes, women, those with disabilities or life-limiting illnesses, and the unemployed.
Physical inactivity, classed as doing less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day, is the cause of one in six deaths – the same rate as smoking.
Jenni Anderson, a Trustee of the Active Essex Foundation and Fundraising Director at the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said: “A strong commitment to regular physical activity is absolutely essential in order to maintain positive health and wellbeing.
“It doesn’t have to be expensive, time consuming or even hard work to engage with sport and physical activity. In fact, there are many activities that are free and accessible to everybody – so all Essex residents can lead healthier, more active lifestyles. I took part myself and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge!”.
The survey also revealed that 7 out of 10 participants have experienced benefits to their mental wellbeing, while 42% tried a new activity for the very first time. Activities included; walking, swimming, cycling, yoga, Pilates and other sports.
Gemma Wright, 33, from Colchester, took part in the 30:30 challenge with her husband Adam, along with their 14 month-old son.
She said: “The 30:30 challenge has encouraged us to take part in more activities as a family – swapping sitting in a café for regular trips to the park. As well as having lots of fun as a family, increasing the amount of physical activity I do has really improved my life, general fitness and happiness.”
Simona Willis, 43, from Epping, said her young family’s outlook on sport and physical activity had significantly improved after taking on the 30:30 challenge – including four-year-old daughter Maya and husband Paul, aged 53.
She said: “We walked to the supermarket instead of driving, we went out for family jogs on Sunday mornings instead of our usual lie-ins, and we just felt great every time we came back – getting some fresh air and feeling more energised throughout the day. The 30:30 campaign has changed us for the better – and we’ll definitely take part again next year.”
Jenni Anderson added: “We are very pleased that the campaign has inspired so many people across Essex to get active and has also helped raise awareness of the Active Essex Foundation’s work.”
The Active Essex Foundation works in partnership with local organisations to help individuals and families living in areas of deprivation, at risk young people, people living with physical and mental health challenges, and BAME (women and girls, black, Asian and minority ethnic), LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) and faith groups.
The foundation’s current project and fundraising activities include working with Motivated Minds, a community interest company in Basildon, to tackle rising issues of mental health disorder, Achievement Through Football to tackle anti-social behaviour in Southend, and Canvey Get Set Youth which engages with youngsters in the Canvey Skate Park and Castle Point areas to create and support a calendar of positive activities.