Activity rates strong among Northlanders

By Mike Dinsdale

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Northlanders are an active lot, with 65 per cent taking part in sport and recreation every week, including events like the Whangarei Half Marathon, above. Photo / Tania Whyte
Northlanders are an active lot, with 65 per cent taking part in sport and recreation every week, including events like the Whangarei Half Marathon, above. Photo / Tania Whyte

Northlanders are an active bunch, with 65 per cent involved in sport or recreation every week.

Sport Northland boss Brent Eastwood said the figures were great, and showed peoplewere taking advantage of the region's natural resources, but more could be done to get other Northlanders active and healthy.

The latest research document from Lincoln University - Sport and Active Recreation Regional Profile: Northland Region and The Economic Value of Sport & Recreation to the Northland region - outlines just how much Northlanders participate.

The research found that 65 per cent of Northlanders - 76,000 people - participate in sport and recreation in any given week, compared to a national high of 74 per cent. A healthy 92.3 per cent of those aged 5-17 in Northland spend at least three hours a week in organised or informal sport and recreation activity.

Each year 12 per cent (14,400) of adults in Northland take part in one or more organised events, such as fun walks or runs, and fishing tournaments.

But when it comes to participating in sport or recreation in man-made settings - including swimming pools, gymnasiums, stadia and sportsgrounds - only 72 per cent of those who do participate in sport and recreation in the region do so, compared to a national average of 91 per cent.

Mr Eastwood said this showed that Northlanders were taking full advantage of our natural resources, such as waterways, oceans, beaches, bush and their backyards to participate.

"[The figures] are great and show that a lot of us are participating, but they also show there is some work to do," he said.

"More people here are accessing our natural environment to participate in sport and recreation. But our challenge is getting more people to do that, to increase our activity levels and therefore increase the health of our population."

He said there were many advantages to getting healthier and more active.

Mr Eastwood said if more people are exercising and healthy some of Northland's poor health statistics - including high levels of diabetes, obesity and heart disease - can be overturned, which means savings for the health system. Being healthier also made people feel better about themselves.

Sport and Recreation Minister Jonathan Coleman said the report provided a useful snapshot of Northland's sport and recreation sector.

"The reports help to highlight the challenges and opportunities for Northland's sport and recreation sector," Dr Coleman said.

"While these figures are encouraging, there's room for improvement. People in Northland are not immune to the global drift towards an increasingly sedentary lifestyle."

The report shows that the sector contributes just over $84.5 million, or 1.6 per cent, of the region's GDP and employs 1284 people.

- Northern Advocate

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