New research revealing that poorer communities are less physically active has prompted calls for Wrexham Council to reverse its decision to close Plas Madoc Leisure Centre.
The research by the ESRC (Economic and Social research Council) says that being less physically active is storing up huge health-related problems for the future.
Researchers from the ESRC examined data on over one million adults in England. The large sample size and detailed local information made it possible to produce precise estimates of the link between physical inactivity and different aspects of individual socio-economic positions, adjusted for local cost of physical activity.
Their research shows high levels of inactivity are closely associated with people’s socio-economic position – specifically income, education and local area deprivation. Other factors influencing physical activity include gender, ethnic group, age and geographic area.
The Policy implications refer to:
– Subsidising sports centres and swimming pools to keep prices low could enable low-income people to attend local facilities
– Financial support for the development of sports facilities in lower socio-economic areas with reduced tax bases could provide gyms, football pitches and pools which are free at the point of access.
Plaid Cymru Clwyd South spokesperson, Mabon ap Gwynfor said: “Plas Madoc is in one of the most deprived wards in Wales. This research shows that inactivity levels and deprivation levels are linked. Our Health system is already struggling. The closure of Plas Madoc is a short sighted decision which will create huge problems for the future.
“The ESRC is a respected research body and is the UK’s largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It says that swimming pools and sports centres should be kept open and financial support should be given to develop sports facilities.
“By contrast, Wrexham Council is actively closing a popular leisure centre based in one of our most deprived wards.
“Diabetes Type Two is on the increase; obesity levels are rising; heart disease continues to be the nation’s biggest killer. All of these cost our NHS tens of millions every year. Health costs could be cut if we provided more leisure facilities. Plas Madoc is ideally placed to play an important part in tackling these health issues and help ease the burden on our health service.”
A copy f the ESRC’s Briefing Paper ‘Poorer People are less physically active’ can be found here: