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About A Week: Fit

Give Peter Hinchliffe a stout pair of hiking boots, and you can keep your sweaty keep-fit gyms.

Dozens of cars are parked in neat rows outside the huge super-gym two miles down the road from my hamlet home.

Dozens of get-fit and keep-fit enthusiasts are labouring inside on the neat rows of treadmills and exercise bikes.

Gyms throughout Britain are thronged from morning to night with folk prepared to sweat to stay healthy.

Some stop off for a swim and a work-out on their way to work. Grannies and granddads in tracksuits and trainers monopolise the equipment during the day. Stressed-out wage slaves release the pressures of mental and physical toil in an evening.

You could be excused for thinking that every adult in this country has gone health crazy.

But no! A recent survey revealed that seven out of 10 adults area are not as healthy as they should be.

Some 200,000 people in Kirklees, the local government area in which I live, are not active enough to meet the Governmentís recommended target for a healthy lifestyle.

A Sport and Recreation Strategy and a Kirklees Physical Activity and Health Action Plan have just been launched to guide the flabbies and the fatties towards a healthier way of life.

Folk over 55 are offered unlimited access to the gym at Tandem on payment of £20 a month.

Canít say Iím tempted by the offer, even though some might consider me a fitness fanatic. I exercise every day - though I donít think of it as exercise.

I go for an hour-long walk. Lace on my boots, trek down the fields, up through the woods on Whitley Beaumont estate, meeting rabbits, hares and the occasional fox along the way.

The fields up there are often a-twitter with feeding starlings. At night the birds seek warm roosting places on the buildings in the center of town.

Being enclosed by the roof and walls of a gym does not appeal to me. Like the rabbits, hares and foxes Iíd much rather be outdoors, with the sun on my face and a gentle breeze ruffling whatís left of my hair.

Walking is the best of all exercises, say the health scientists. Walking on level ground is good. Walking uphill is better still.

Hilly Huddersfield is tailor-made for the keep-fit walker. Plenty of up-hill work to give the heart a good workout. And fabulous views into the bargain!

As I come striding home along Thurgory Lane, an ancient green track that was named by the Vikings, I look out on Castle Hill, Holme Moss and the hills of Derbyshire.

If that scene was painted by a talented artist and hung on a gallery wall it would be enthusiastically acclaimed. To have it as a backdrop to a daily ramble is a bonus beyond measure.

But thatís enough talk for now of fitness and gyms.

Thereís a breeze blowing this morning. The sun is shining. Time to lace on those boots and stride out across the friendly hills of home.

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