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As Shrewsbury is named the healthiest place in the UK, Professor John Buckley shares an insight on the town and features within it that contribute to good health.

The Professor of Applied Exercise Science and resident of the Shrewsbury area is contributing to the development of the curriculum at University Centre Shrewsbury.

Shrewsbury topped a list of the healthiest towns published by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) today (March 26, 2015). The league table forms part of the RSPH’s Health on the High Street campaign and lists 70 of the UK’s major towns and cities based on the proportion of businesses found in their main retail area that either support or harm the public’s health.

Prof Buckley, Chair of the International Council of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, said: “It is very encouraging to hear that in offering courses including Exercise and Health and Sports and Exercise Medicine, University Centre Shrewsbury students will be studying in the healthiest town in the UK.

“With Shrewsbury being named as the nation’s healthiest town, this means it is also likely to be one of the world’s healthiest towns.”

Prof Buckley said that in addition to the measures from the RSPH, “Shrewsbury is an ideal town for walkability”.

“Shrewsbury is not too big so that you need a car to get about, but not too small so that your muscles get some good activity,” he said.

He outlined that the best way for people to burn more energy was to add more activity into something they were doing anyway, and there were different options to achieve this while shopping or exploring Shrewsbury town centre.

“It is now known from government statistics that most people get their weekly physical activity as a result of shopping (hunting and gathering for survival has essentially not changed except it is considerably less effort now). The walkability of Shrewsbury has the right balance of flat spaces and short hills (Pride Hill, St John’s Hill, Claremont Hill) or longer, steeper hills (Castle Street, Claremont Bank, steps up from the bus station) and the opportunity to choose alternate routes relevant to one’s fitness to avoid the longer steeper hills. The beautiful Quarry, with all its routes doesn’t need any further explanation and again some steady inclines if you so wish to walk or run with more vigour.”

Prof Buckley added that Wyle Cop, in particular, offered a good exercise opportunity and test of health.

“With many of the heart patients I served during the 20 years when running the Lifestyle Fitness Centre at Radbrook and the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital Exercise Centre, Wyle Cop always provided the ideal reference point of people’s fitness, which was easily meaningful to them, and one I actually quoted in my first textbook published in 1999. The ability (or not) of a person to walk up the gradient and length of Wyle Cop is an ideal marker of fitness for health, that is very similar to the cycle or treadmill tests patients would go through to determine a good level of fitness.”

Prof Buckley explained why being active day-to-day was important.

“It is through daily walking, like standing on the scales, which reminds people of where their fitness is at and literally jogs their memories to spend less time sitting and more time on their feet. If people are not often active, then they do not get any regular feedback on how fit or unfit they are until it’s too late and may then only make changes when reminded of a doctor’s diagnosis of heart and blood pressure problems or diabetes.”

He added that the RSPH findings resonated with courses at University Centre Shrewsbury.

“Courses being offered at University Centre Shrewsbury in Exercise, Health, Medicine and Sport will have a specialist focus on how the physical and social environment where people live and work influences their health.

“With Shropshire’s Olympic heritage and findings such as those made by the Royal Society for Public Health, Shrewsbury and Shropshire provide a great setting to study these subjects.”

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