Nigel’s Notes - Being active will improve quality of life

You can tell that summer must be here when the schools come off; you might not be sure by looking at the weather.

What’s happened to those long hot dry spells I remember as a kid? Given that we are now past the summer solstice the days become gradually shorter but we can expect it to be warm - great news if, like me, you enjoy walking, or other outside activities such as gardening.

And an active lifestyle is what we all need. According to Scottish Government advisor Dr Andrew Murray just a daily walk alone will significantly reduce the potential of obesity and diabetes, the effects of dementia, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. Overall it will substantially improve your quality of life.

As Dr Murray describes it, exercise is medicine; but how much do we need? Well according to the doctor, “30 minutes of walking (or any exercise) is better than any preventative medicine, and it’s safe. 60 minutes physical activity a day is the single best present you can give a child.” You can find some very sensible advice on Dr Murray’s website regarding health, fitness and diet.

We have an abundance of parks, forests, beaches, hills and mountains, castles, gardens and ancient monuments all within the fairly small geographical area of my constituency of Angus North and Mearns. For summer holidays we have our own active play park right on our door step - we just have to get out and enjoy it.

I recently met the folk at the Links Park Trust, Montrose to learn about the many interesting things they are doing around my constituency. They clearly have a passion to get us more active in ways which will make us both physically and mentally healthier. Their website is definitely worth a look at ( if you are looking for inspiration.

This week I have asked the Scottish Government to consider a national approach to sites for the gypsy/travelling community rather than a piecemeal council by council response. It is extremely difficult for councillors to recommend sites within their wards as the settled community rarely see travellers as welcome neighbours, even though many groups cause no trouble whatever. It seems to me that this needs a national perspective and a national solution, and of course it all needs to be drawn up in consultation with Gypsy/travellers or it will be no solution at all.

Further to the publication of the consultants’ report on the need for a grade-separated junction at Laurencekirk I have written to Aberdeenshire Council, Transport Scotland and Nestrans to arrange a meeting to consider what needs to be done to ensure that this project is progressed as fast as possible. Of course we needed traffic studies to inform the design, and we now need a proper design with accurate costs followed by a public procurement, but what everyone actually wants to see is a finished fly-over which we can drive over and under. That’s what will make the difference and it needs to happen as fast as possible.