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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 July 2006, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Computer games on exercise bikes
Ceri Norman using the new equipment
The scheme is to attract young people to exercise more
Games consoles have been installed on workout machines at a south Wales gym to encourage youngsters to take up a more exercise.

The Playstation 2 consoles have been fitted onto exercise bikes at a fitness centre at Pencoed near Bridgend.

It comes as the Welsh Assembly Government launched the next stage of its "Fitter Nation" strategy.

The 11.8m investment includes improved facilities, a schools sports programme and workplace fitness projects.

Paul Morgan, a gym co-ordinator at the council-run pool and fitness centre in Pencoedsaid young people who had used the equipment "loved it".

"We had new equipment at the gym and there is individual television screens on them which are PS2 compatible," he said.

"We were also looking at ways we could entice more young people to take up exercise because of the rise in childhood obesity.

"A lot of children go home from school and start playing on their games consoles and don't do any exercise, so we thought if they could do that at our facility maybe they would come."

Alun Pugh at launch of a skateboard park in Caerphilly on Wednesday
Mr Pugh wants more physical exercise from people of all ages

Bosses at the nearby Sony plant donated 12 games consoles to the gym after being approached by staff.

Mr Morgan said staff then worked with local schools who referred children to the gym.

He said 16 youngsters underwent a six-week trial where they could use games consoles while exercising.

"They absolutely loved it," explained Mr Morgan.

"They thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm expecting it to be a busier summer now."

He said the initiative would be extended to nearby Pyle later this year.

General manager at the Sony UK Technology Centre, Gerald Kelly, said: "It is a great idea to provide PS2s to encourage youngsters to take more exercise and still have fun."

Cycle track

The launch of the new initiative came as the Welsh Assembly Government reviewed its 20 year vision of how it intends to improve the fitness of the people living in Wales.

The strategy was first unveiled in 2005.

The assembly government announced details of a further 11.8m investment in physical activity, including the Active Lifestyles Innovation Fund which is aimed at getting more adults to take up more fitness.

Sports minister Alun Pugh said: "It doesn't matter what stage of life you're at.

"You can walk your kids to school, dust off your bike and cycle around the park, on a cycle track, or if you're over 60 go swimming for free in your local public swimming pool."

A secondary school sports programme will be launched in September.

There will also be activity challenges aimed at communties and workplaces and 4m towards adapting existing local facilties to encourage sport and physical activities.




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