OLIVER DOWDEN: Now is the time to get out there and get active

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Spring is here, the days are getting warmer and longer, and with the next phase of the roadmap taking effect, we are finally seeing the return of some of the things we love.

Fortunately, that starts with sports. Starting Monday morning, grassroots teams will take to fields across the country as tennis and basketball courts, golf courses and outdoor pools open their doors to the public for the first time in months.

Parents will cheer with relief as their kids reunite with their five-a-side, cricket and netball teams. Golfers will keep an eye on their morning tee-off with anticipation.

Grassroots teams will return to fields across the country starting Monday morning

Grassroots teams will return to fields across the country starting Monday morning

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is urging the country to get out and get back in business

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is urging the country to get out and get back in business

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden is urging the country to get out and get back in business

We promised that sports would get to the front of the queue, and it is – only behind the return of schools. That’s because, like Sportsmail rightly emphasized in his grassroots sports campaign that exercise is critical to both our health and mental well-being.

Regular exercise doesn’t just help keep us in shape. It reduces the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and cancer, helps us sleep better, manage stress and anxiety, and improves our overall mood. We’ve all felt those benefits firsthand after a tough workout, just like we’ve seen them in our kids when they come home from a good runabout in the park.

Covid brought home the value of exercise for all of us. Millions of people have missed the opportunity to get out and exercise, and while I know many have made a valiant effort to keep fit, it has been a constant struggle to stay motivated. The limitations will have taken their mental and physical toll on all of us.

Parents will cheer with relief as kids reunite with five-vs-side, cricket and netball teams

Parents will cheer with relief as kids reunite with five-vs-side, cricket and netball teams

Parents will cheer with relief as kids reunite with five-vs-side, cricket and netball teams

So it’s time to make the most of this moment.

As the ‘stay home’ order is coming to an end, I urge everyone to get out and get active – whether it’s driving laps at the local lido, playing soccer with friends, or going to the village. green to break out the cricket white, leather and willow.

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that children aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day and that adults get at least 2.5 hours per week.

Let’s use the performance of sports as a trigger to get fitter.

Month after month, we travel steadily through the steps back to normalcy. First, we had the successful return of our schools – a huge milestone for the country. For example, I’ve seen a real change now that kids are back in class and how happy they are to be reunited with their friends.

The CMO has recommended that children aim for at least 60 minutes of exercise per day

The CMO has recommended that children aim for at least 60 minutes of exercise per day

The CMO has recommended that children aim for at least 60 minutes of exercise per day

Adults will be able to do the same starting Monday, with the final stage of the roadmap enabling social gatherings of six people or two households in parks, private gardens and other outdoor settings.

None of this would have been possible without the astonishing pace of our rollout. More than half of the entire adult population in the UK is now vaccinated, with thousands growing every day.

That is incredible progress and means that we will not only be able to plow through this stage of the roadmap, but also look forward optimistically to steps 2, 3 and beyond.

As we do this step by step with increasing confidence, we do everything we can to prepare for the reopening of everything else as well.

We’re running a number of mass event pilots so we can test the return of spectators and audiences – including the FA Cup Final and the World Snooker Championship in the Crucible.

Great progress has been made and this phase of our roadmap means that the sport is getting closer

Great progress has been made and this phase of our roadmap means that the sport is getting closer

Great progress has been made and this phase of our roadmap means that the sport is getting closer

Sports clubs are ready to welcome fans thanks to our £ 600 million Sport Winter Survival Package, which has provided them with unparalleled financial support during the bleakest months of this crisis.

On Monday, we’ll be announcing the ultimate beneficiaries of that package – with rugby league, rugby union, horse racing, National League football and the Women’s Super League, track and field and speedway all getting a financial boost to help prepare them for reopening.

Stadiums are dusting their seats and preparing their programs so that spectators can make their way through the turnstiles again.

Over the next few months, all of these dreams will gradually become reality. The journey to them starts on Monday t- and not a moment too soon.