The habits of people in Boston have often made the headlines for all the wrong reasons, with too many of the borough’s population having been judged to be overweight, drink too much, smoke and take little or no exercise.
Latest figures have shown Boston to be among the five places in the country where most people are overweight, with one in three classified as obese.
To help tackle this, Boston Borough Council has joined forces with Lincolnshire Live’s print title, Boston Target, to launch Get Out, Get Active – a new campaign to encourage people to take better care of themselves.
At its simplest, staying fit and healthy can boil down to eating less – or at least eating what’s good for you – and moving more.
We all have a rough idea of what we ought and ought not be eating and drinking.
A little of what you fancy may well do you good, but too much, too often will have the reverse effect.
A balanced diet that’s lower in sugars, salt and fats, and perhaps alcohol and higher in the good things that fruit, vegetables and oily fish bring to the mix is what’s desired.
But we all know that, don’t we? Fewer crisps, chip, take-aways and processed food, more fresh fruit and veg. It’s not rocket science.
Rough rule of thumb – fruit and veg should make up a third of all you eat each day.
Aim, for five portions – a single apple, banana or pear is a portion and three heaped tablespoons of veg is another.
To an extent, it comes down to willpower, although including starches and pulses in your diet and factoring in your body mass index (BMI) does make things slightly more complicated.
There’s loads of easy to understand and helpful information at this NHS website http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx
Moving more can be slightly scary for those not accustomed to taking regular exercise. This needn’t mean being intimidated at a gym full of muscled and well-toned folk busily pumping iron.
Getting fitter can really be fun, something you can do with like-minded others and with clearly measurable improvements.
No more puffing and panting as you climb the stairs or mow the lawn, exertion without perspiration and goodbye to a banging pulse when things speed up a little.
Each month we will highlight ways in which you and all the family can Get Out, Get Active – some new and some existing.
For a gentle start Boston Community Runners could be just the thing. Don’t be put off by the word “runners”. There is no bigger expectation for beginners than a 30-second jog.
Sarah Burton helps organise things when the group meets every Thursday, 6.50pm for 7pm, at the Peter Paine Performance Centre in Rosebery Avenue in Boston.
Sarah said the group was formed in April as Boston didn’t have a dedicated running club. The nearest being in Cambridgeshire or Skegness.
It’s absolutely free, there is no pressure to sign up (then just £1 a month, with benefits, if you decide to join). You can just turn up and ask for Sarah – she will slowly introduce you to running.
They are a friendly and supportive bunch of all abilities and “all shapes and sizes” and you will soon make new friends. No expensive special equipment is necessary, just a comfy pair of trainers.
Sarah said: “You can start off with 30-second jogs at intervals and walking and build from there. Some jog and then stop and walk, others walk as fast as some jog, everyone is different and we assess everyone individually.
“One lady started with us just like that. She was self conscious and wore two sports bras and two tops when she first came. We are all shapes and sizes here, and no one is judging anyone else.
“At first she could only manage the 30-second jogs and was red-faced and asthmatic. Within eight weeks she could complete 5k without stopping, felt fitter, her breathing was better and she lost weight and is now a very enthusiastic helpful member of the group.
“It’s surprising how quickly the body can adapt to regular exercise, even in those who have never really done any.
“But you have to want to do it, and believe you will. We are all very supportive. One of the best things about it is that, whatever your ability, when you are out there, whether at park run or taking part in an event, to hear people clapping and saying ‘well done Boston’ or ‘come on Boston’ is a fantastic feeling.”
Some graduate from Couch to 5k to more challenging runs such as 10k and half marathons.
One thing’s for sure, everyone gets fitter, everyone tones up and everyone meets new friends.
The community runners can be a nursery for those who go on to also join in the Saturday morning park run sessions at Witham Way Country Park, 8.30am for 9am.
For more information about Boston Community Runners go to www.bostoncommunityrunners.co.uk where you can also find a joining form (but you can just turn up any Thursday night at Peter Paine).
You can also find them on Facebook, Boston Community runners) and Twitter, BostonRunnersUK.