KEITH Barker from Oldham stars in That Counts! - a new campaign aiming to inspire thousands of people from across the town and Greater Manchester to lead a more active life.

Latest figures show more than 79,700 adults aged above 16 and 26,200 children (aged five to 16) in Oldham are not moving enough.

The Greater Manchester-wide That Counts! campaign has been created in response. By giving people a clear activity target and encouraging them to look beyond formal sport or exercise, it will help them find their own ways of fitting more activity into their daily lives.

It shows that moving for just 30 minutes a day can be fun, social and bring lots of benefits, like feeling happier, more confident and sleeping well, as well as helping towards long-term health.

Keith is featured as one of the campaign’s everyday heroes.

He said: “I’ve been pretty active all through my life, but when I retired, I felt like I needed to make sure I was moving a bit more each day whilst also giving something back.

“I love gardening. What people don’t realise is that it can be quite physical, from pulling weeds, to digging, to moving things around the garden. You can work up a bit of a sweat sometimes! Gardening is a great activity.

“You can do as much or as little as your body can take and work up to doing more over time. The good thing about this gardening group is that we all help and support each other – the more physically able helping those who aren’t. Over time this helps us all to do a bit more.

“I’m so glad to be picked to be part of this campaign and hope my story helps other people add a little more movement into their day. A lot of people think moving more means the gym or lycra, but gardening couldn’t be further from the truth. And it’s not just toil here, we sit down, have a brew and make friends – which is brilliant for your mental health too.”

Keith’s posters can also been seen at Waterloo Street and Goldwick Street until October 25.

Led by the Greater Manchester Moving (GM Moving) team, That Counts! is part of an ambitious plan to find solutions to the long-term barriers to physical activity.

It is supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and Sport England.

Hundreds of organisations have also pledged their support, including leisure facilities, sports clubs, community groups, businesses and charities.

The inspiring community initiative is an important contribution to Greater Manchester’s aims to reduce inactivity and get 2 million residents moving by 2021.

With 59,000 more local people becoming active or fairly active over the past three years, levels of inactivity in the city-region are already falling three times faster than the national rate.

However, official statistics show Greater Manchester still has higher inactivity levels than both the North West and England average.

But studies show a clear appetite among GM residents to do more though and two-thirds of locals (67 per cent) want to be more active.

Many are finding it difficult to move enough in their everyday lives though, with one in four (25 per cent) not having enough time, nearly a third (32 per cent) feeling too tired and more than a quarter (26 per cent) put off by the weather.

Cabinet member for health and social care Cllr Zahid Chauhan said: “The ‘That Counts!’ campaign is great because it aims to show the residents of Oldham that everyday movements can count towards your 30 minutes daily activity goal.

“Exercising doesn’t need to be about spending countless hours in the gym on the running machine or the weights. It can be as simple as getting off a bus stop earlier, doing a spot of gardening like Keith or walking somewhere with the family.

“In Oldham we promote a range of physical activities that the whole family can enjoy including our Get Oldham Active offer and our ‘Let’s Go for a Walk’ initiative.

“We still have a long way to go but we strive to improve health and wellbeing across the borough with help from partners and the community.

“This campaign is vital in helping us achieve our goal and to educate residents more about difference between physical activity and exercise.”

The campaign has the backing of mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who said: “Greater Manchester residents are already taking great strides to become more active – and we’re tackling inactivity three times faster than the national average.

"We’ve got a lot to celebrate, but there’s still some way to go and barriers we can start to tackle as a community. That Counts! is an active, engaging and fun campaign that shows it doesn’t matter what you do, or how you do it, there are loads of ways to make movement count.”