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PHOTO: AFRICA STUDIO/SHUTTERSTOCK

nderpasses becoming climbing walls, community access to school facilities, better integrated cycling and walking infrastructure and a mobile play trailer are all being considered by Hamilton City Council as ways of giving the city an injection of fun and encouraging people to travel by bike or on foot. The city, in the Waikato region of the North Island – famous as the location of Middle Earth and The Shire, in The Lord of the Rings – is blessed with beautiful natural resources and an active population, but is still grappling with increases in obesity levels.

Public areas such as parks and playgrounds are the most popular places to be active

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Issue 4 2021 ©Cybertrek 2021

The New Zealand Health Survey 2019/20 found that one in three adults aged 15 and over were obese (30.9 per cent), with the prevalence of obesity differing with ethnicity: being 63.4 per cent in Pacific Islanders, 47.9 per cent in Maoris, 29.3 per cent in European/other and 15.9 per cent in Asians. National activity guidelines in New Zealand are for adults to do 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise throughout the week, but to double this for extra health benefits. Having spent time living in New Zealand during the early noughties, it was great to see how much time people spent being active outdoors. This was thanks largely to the magnificent natural environment and the energetic Kiwi mindset, but government encouragement played a part too. The jingle from a public health advert still sticks in my mind, reminding me to “push play for 30 minutes a day.”