Lord Mayor is delighted as people join his campaign to make Portsmouth a fitter city

Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Lee Mason
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Lee Mason
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THE Lord Mayor of Portsmouth’s bid for a healthier city has inspired residents just days after it was officially launched.

Recently-appointed Lord Mayor Cllr Lee Mason revealed details of his Small Changes Big Difference campaign at Saturday’s fitness festival in Southsea.

Spearheaded by Cllr Mason, the scheme aims to get people across the city to walk one million miles, lose one million pounds in weight and donate a million hours to voluntary work.

Cllr Mason has been met by residents eager to get stuck in.

He said: ‘It’s been great how well received the campaign has been. People have been coming up and telling me how they’ve started joining gyms, tweaking their diet or joining the NHS programme Couch to 5k.

‘The many great supporters we had at Sweat’s Fitness Festival on Saturday from the leisure and exercise community was amazing. If you’re out of shape or unhealthy don’t be put of heading to a gym or leisure centre, they aren’t judging of you.

‘The big challenge for us is to keep people motivated and on the programme. I know when people – including me – hit minor setbacks or have a slip it’s tempting to walk away, but we need to support people to keep going.

‘We will recruit more people as when residents see the results they’ll want to be part of it. And remember small changes mean a big difference.’

The mayor pledged to slim down, adopting a more healthy lifestyle including the use of a cross-trainer that was installed in his office. He added: ‘Only three weeks in, I am noticing I can climb stairs more easily and without getting so out of breath, and walking to the shops is no longer such a challenge.

‘Whilst my weight hasn’t dropped I know muscle weighs more than fat and as I build more muscle it will start to burn fat faster too. The feeling and greater comfort in movement alone makes it worthwhile for me.’

People who sign up via the website will be known as ‘Portsmouth millionaires’. The council plans to reward the most successful with gifts such as gym memberships for which information will be available online.

Since Saturday the scheme’s members have walked 57 miles, lost 12 pounds and given two hours to voluntary work.

The campaign comes after figures last month revealed a rise in hospital admissions due to obesity-related illnesses.

Data from NHS Digital showed in 2016 there were 79 hospital admissions linked to obesity in Portsmouth or 38 admissions per 100,000 of the population. The rate of admissions for 2013 in the city was only 10 per 100,000.

Statistics showed in Portsmouth 24 per cent of four to five-year-olds in the city were overweight or obese as were 36 per cent of 10 to 11-year-olds.

To take part see smallchangesportsmouth.co.uk