Sporting mascots flex their muscle in outdoor gym

Diabetes Prevention week JAR_0066.JPG

Mascots from two of Leicestershire’s major sporting teams have gone head-to-head in a fitness challenge as part of a city-wide physical activity drive. 

Leicestershire County Cricket Club’s Charlie Fox was pitted against Leicester Rider’s Hotshot in the fitness challenge, which took place at Victoria Park’s outdoor gym on Friday.

England basketball international and Leicester Riders captain Andy Thomson refereed the competition, set up to mark the start of Diabetes Prevention Week which gets underway on Monday, April 1.  

Members of the public who use Leicester’s outdoor gyms were also there cheering on the mascots and using the gym apparatus.  

Hasu Saujani, 65, has been using the outdoor gyms for six months and said: “I’ve noticed a real change to my well-being and fitness levels since using the gyms. They’re a great way to increase activity levels and get some fresh air. I sometimes come with friends too, which also makes working out a great way to socialise.”

The mascot contest was organised by the Leicester Changing Diabetes programme, a city-wide campaign to reduce type 2 diabetes rates.

Ivan Browne, Director of Public Health for Leicester City Council said: “Outdoor gyms have everything you need to get moving more and they are conveniently located in our local parks. With more than 30 installed across the city, you’re never far from one.

“They are a valuable asset to the community, providing a free, accessible and easy way to do more physical activity. We know that adding an extra 10 minutes or more of moderate activity a day can have significant health improvements. Not only that but you will feel great after using them too.”

This year is the second Diabetes Prevention Week, organised by the NHS Diabetes Prevention programme. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness that making small lifestyle changes can make a big impact in improving your health. 

Leicester Changing Diabetes is a partnership programme with Novo Nordisk and the Leicester Diabetes Centre based at Leicester General Hospital. The global initiative Cities Changing Diabetes was created by pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk and was launched in response to the dramatic rise of diabetes within urban areas.  

Dr Deirdre Harrington, academic lead for Leicester Changing Diabetes, said: “Our outdoor gyms are a great resource as users of the equipment can work out while getting fresh air. There are no membership fees, booking systems or restricted times which makes them a great facility to fit into any daily routine, whether you work or have a family to look after.

“By bringing Hotshot and Charlie Fox together, we wanted to show the people of Leicester that anyone can use the gyms. They feature a range of equipment such as bikes, cross trainers and chest presses. They are resistance-free machines and are appropriate for any ability or experience.”

The Leicester Diabetes Centre – a partnership and collaboration between the Leicester’s Hospitals NHS Trust and the University of Leicester – is an international Centre of Excellence in diabetes research, education and innovation and is led by Professor Melanie Davies CBE and Professor Kamlesh Khunti.

Professor Davies CBE, Director of the Leicester Diabetes Centre and Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “We’re in the middle of a diabetes epidemic and type 2 diabetes numbers are continuing to grow, which is why we wanted to highlight how useful the city’s outdoor gyms really are.

“Through research we’ve carried out, we know that exercise plays a large part in preventing or managing type 2 diabetes. Exercising can also improve your heart health, manage your weight better, boost your muscle and joint functions and positively affect your mind.”

 Full details, as well as handy training tips and a map showing the location of all Leicester parks with outdoor gyms, are available online at here.

 

Fiona Bailey