More needs to be done to break down barriers preventing older adults and young women in Fife from doing physical activity, a report has suggested.
Fife councillors have now formally endorsed recommendations made by the region’s Physical Activity and Sport Policy Advisory Group (PASPAG), which aims to encourage greater levels of participation in sport across the board, in light of startling new figures.
Its research revealed that only 42% of older adults in Fife did at least 30 minutes of physical activity on at least five days a week, while only 51% of girls aged 13 to 15 met national guidelines of 60 minutes a day – including school based activity – compared to 68% of boys.
Further work will now be carried out by the PASPAG to identify particular reasons why both age groups are not partaking in physical activity, while a “targeted approach” in encouraging teenage girls to take up sport will now be adopted.
That could include an audit of uniform policies and changing facilities throughout Fife, which are often identified as specific barriers to young girls and women, although Fife’s executive committee heard this week that any changes would have to be done within existing resources.
The main thrust of the report was backed by committee members, and Councillor Mark Hood, who chairs the Fife Sports Partnership, welcomed moves to address provision.
“I guess what we’ve got to continue to bear in mind is that for every £1 we invest we see a £3 saving in healthcare, so if we’re to develop a sustainable health care system in Fife then we need to continue to invest,” he noted.
“There are a whole lot of things being done across Fife that maybe don’t get the profile we want them to get, but I welcome this paper and it’s all part of a process.”
Somewhat strangely for Fife, the report also recommended that a Nordic walking initiative should be developed further, following consultation with teenage girls and young women ahead of the report’s publication.
But Mr Hood added: “For me there is a different mindset with regard to teenage girls and the social element is crucial.
“The idea of Nordic walking is great and they can still have a chat with their pals when they are out walking with them.”
Cupar councillor Karen Marjoram highlighted just one reason as to why young women tend not to pursue certain types of physical activity.
“I know my daughter would not entertain going out for a run because of her safety,” she noted.
“It’s about getting people out and doing exercise, breaking down the barriers, and removing that fear.
“A lot of women think about exercise in a controlled environment, so I really welcome this work being done.”
In relation to older adults, plans to roll out the Otago training programme – which is an exercise programme aimed at reducing falls in frailer older people – will be supported by an extra £10,000 from the council’s revenue budget.