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Government launches £5.1m 'exercise fund'

More than £5 million will be used to encourage children to exercise, the government has announced. 

Over a quarter of adults currently do less than 30 minutes of exercise per week. Just a third of boys and a quarter of girls meet the recommendation of at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day. 

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry has warned that the lack of exercise is putting the public's health at risk. 

Around £1.1 million has been invested in Street Play England, which aims to make streets a safer place for children to play, providing practical tools and training as well as creating opportunities for social connection. 

The government claims the funding will enable Play England help residents close their roads from time to time to allow children and families to play out in a safer environment.

Director of Play England Cath Prisk said: “Active kids become active adults and we know one of the places kids are most active is on the streets outside their own houses when they are able to simply go out there and play, like most adults did.

“Everyone can do something to make their own communities more playful and we are very happy to be given this opportunity to support residents and local voluntary groups across England in making their own streets playful again.”

Olympic 'legacy'

Change4Life sports clubs have been given £3 million, and £1 million has been invested in walking initiatives. 

Soubry said: “We were all inspired by the Olympics and Paralympics and as part of their legacy we want to encourage everyone - children and adults - to get active and get healthy.

“We want to do everything we can to help people lead longer, healthier lives, which is why for the first time ever, we've given local authorities increased and ring-fenced budgets to tackle public health issues in their local area.”

Last year more than 100,000 children and young people took part in Change4Life sports clubs with double the amount of primary school children who attended exercising for an hour a day.

Regular physical activity can significantly reduce avoidable mortality and prevent conditions, such as stroke, heart disease and diabetes which cost the NHS £1 billion a year in England alone.