New exercise plan aims to get 'inactive' town moving

ipswich park kit for exercise

Ipswich Borough Council's sport and physical activity strategy aims to get people active by using the council's parks - Credit: Jason Noble/LDRS

New plans have been approved to get Ipswich adults exercising after data indicated the town was among the most inactive in the country.

Ipswich borough is ranked the eighth least active local authority area in England, according to Ipswich Borough Council’s report, with 38.5% of adults – more than one in three – exercising less than 30 minutes per week.

The data has prompted the council to form a five-year sport and physical activity plan with the aid of the Sport, Leisure and Culture Consultancy (SLC) that aims to help get people moving.

It includes proposals to increase social prescribing and exercise referrals from health services, create events to get people moving, and design and deliver an ‘active parks’ programme for sessions outside in the council’s parks.

Bryony Rudkin, Labour deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: IBC

Bryony Rudkin, Labour deputy leader of Ipswich Borough Council. Picture: IBC - Credit: IBC

Elsewhere, opportunities for town centre or heritage trails to encourage walking and a town centre trim trail or outdoor gym have been highlighted.

Evidence gathering to find out common barriers to exercise and activity is also to be carried out.

Bryony Rudkin, deputy leader and portfolio holder for communities and sport, acknowledged that the pandemic had changed the way people exercised and a separate sports facilities strategy is due to come forward in future, but stressed that would be about the “expansion and improvement of the sporting facilities in Ipswich”.

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She said: “There is a push towards targeting more deprived areas and those people who are less active but that isn’t the sole driver of this strategy. Activity needs to be appropriate and relevant to specific individuals and the location where that takes place.

“For those who are not currently active, the idea of going to sport and leisure facilities may actually be off-putting so the implementation of the strategy and associated plan will be to deliver more activities in parks, open spaces, community facilities and the town centre.”

Liberal Democrat councillor Oliver Holmes questioned whether the plan would drive more people to private sector gyms, and whether it was more of a public health issue which is managed by Suffolk County Council.

Conservative group leader Ian Fisher highlighted that the strategy was based on a consultation carried out by SLC in 2019 before the pandemic, and questioned whether deferring it for a more up-to-date consultation would be better.