Children get ready to get fit

Steve DownesAnd they're off - thousands of children across Norfolk will today be starting a new exercise regime designed to get them fit and fight off the risk of obesity.Steve Downes

And they're off - thousands of children across Norfolk will today be starting a new exercise regime designed to get them fit and fight off the risk of obesity.

Play 90 - a free scheme encouraging more than 100,000 youngsters aged five to 16 to stay healthy - gets under way by doing physical activity for at least 90 minutes a day for 90 days.

Every Norfolk schoolchild has been given a wallchart to record their progress and any exercise can count towards the magic 90 minutes including:

tSchool sport



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tPlaying outside with friends

tHelping to push the shopping trolley round the supermarket

The initiative, which is open to children of all abilities, is backed by every member of the current Norwich City squad as well as Norfolk County Council..

For those taking part, there is the added incentive of winning a number of weekly prizes and being entered into the grand prize draw, which sees the Norwich City first team squad visiting a school at the beginning of the next school year.

Other incentives for Play 90 include Norwich City merchandise and a VIP tour around Carrow Road.

The Play 90 website also includes ideas about the types of activity that count for Play 90 and tips and weekly updates from Norwich City players about diet and fitness.

Derrick Murphy, the council's deputy leader, said: 'Play 90 kicks off on Monday and children and young people simply have to register and begin filling out their wallchart to win a school visit from the likes of match-winner Oli Johnson.

'It isn't just about football though, it's about inspiring children and young people to do any fun physical activity for 90 minutes a day, whilst also promoting a healthy diet.

'I call on the county's teachers, parents and carers to encourage our youngsters to register on the website and begin to Play 90.'

Play 90 is far more than an initiative that helps fit children get fitter.

Participants can do anything that is healthy, active and fun to tick off their daily dose of 90 minutes. Ideas include:

Try new activities - have a go at a different sport or add physical routines to the rules of your favourite board game

Take the long way round - avoid the short cuts, take the stairs, walk or bike to school or make sure your parents' car is parked a little further away from the school gate

Help at home or in your community - push the trolley round the supermarket, clean the car, do some vacuuming or get involved in village clean-up days

Play 90 with a friend - give it a competitive edge and gain encouragement by recruiting a friend

Keep it simple - pick up a skipping rope, get on your bike or play hopscotch

Have a day without watching TV or playing on the computer or games consoles - do something active instead

Take the TV challenge - don't just sit still during the adverts. Do a workout, including push-ups, star jumps or walking around the room

Spread the load - try to do 10 or 15-minute bursts of activity during the day, rather than cramming the 90 minutes into one session.