Run, Rhianon, Run

(Title Image: Gareth James licenced for reuse under Creative Commons Licence BY-SA-2.0)

The first short debate of the new term was lead by Rhianon Passmore AM (Lab, Islwyn) on the subject of running and exercise.

“You run your own race”

Rhianon listed several major running events in Wales, with the Swansea 10k and the Cardiff half marathon due to take place over the coming weeks. Islwyn has a strong running pedigree and a scheme has been started to encourage more women to take up running for the first time called Future Flyers.

The Welsh Government’s “daily mile” initiative will also play an important role in encouraging children to move from lighter physical exercise towards more organised athletics:

“The daily mile has the potential for numerous benefits beyond simply improving fitness. And like music, and like musical access, it can help children become more engaged with the outdoors, build self-esteem and confidence as well as help developing team-working skills. The Fitbit and counting steps is not the preserve of adults, and so I’m heartened to see more and more children consciously aware of the need to be active, as a former teacher and educator, especially with all the temptations they face of staying sedentary in front of screens and now a myriad of devices, potentially, for many hours.”
– Rhianon Passmore AM

Lack of facilities remains a problem and austerity has led to budget squeezes, though she called for funding to be considered to develop an athletics track in Islwyn.

Bringing individuals together

Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism & Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnydd) revealed that he’s a runner himself, setting a personal goal to run at least 5km three times a week.

While the health benefits of regular exercise were obvious, the social aspect of exercise was often ignored, strengthening community ethos and helping to address loneliness and isolation.

“Unfortunately, the situation we are facing, according to the latest information we have as a Government in the national survey for Wales, is that only 53% of adults, so that’s only a little over half of Welsh adults, say that they undertook 150 minutes of physical activity in the previous week.”
– Deputy Minister for Culture, Tourism & Sport, Dafydd Elis-Thomas

He said he wasn’t a fan of broad strategies, but was more a fan of action plans – the daily mile being one example of such. 36% of schools now take part in the daily mile. Also, around £16million of Sport Wales’ £43million annual budget was dedicated to developing community sport and physical activity.