We all have a part to play in staying healthy

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The simply brilliant Olympic opening ceremony has, I believe, put Britain firmly in the international spotlight as confident, creative and comedic.

The challenge now for the government will be to turn that into real gold for the country – bringing business and visitors to the UK.

Saturday evening was the best ever for British Athletics with three gold medals won in one night.

It was also amazingly exciting – lifting Team GB along with all the other successful sports, into third place in the medal table.

And that gives the government another challenge. To use the Olympics to inspire the next generation and also encourage the nation as a whole to take more exercise – young and older.

It was one of the reasons that I was determined, despite opposition from the Tories, to keep Calshot Activities Centre open in the early ’90s.

And in Portsmouth, the Lib Dems have reinstated free swimming for under-16s and over-60s.

I am not one to blame anyone for their health problems.

But it is only too easy these days to lead a sedentary lifestyle and eat too much.

People should consult their doctor before starting on exercise or diet.

But as well as obviously quitting or cutting down on smoking, the NHS and British Heart Foundation say just 30 minutes of exercise, say brisk walking, five times a week can bring major benefits.

Indeed so much so that if it was a drug, it would be hailed as a wonder pill.

Along with eating more veg and to a lesser extent fruit, cutting down on saturated fat and keeping one’s weight under control, all this can help reduce the likelihood of contracting many health problems especially cardiovascular – something that I have had my own battles with recently.

I am very grateful for the many good wishes I have had and I am pleased to report that, thanks to the dedicated work of the NHS, I am well on the mend.

But a healthier, fitter nation is a ‘gold medal’ challenge for us all individually and the government and the country as whole.

And it is one that could reap even bigger rewards than a successful Team GB at the Olympics.

So when you’ve finished reading the paper go for a short walk.