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Jedi training programme encourages children to get fit

A new Star Wars themed training programme has been designed to encourage youngsters to get exercising.

Luke Skywalker is encouraging youngsters to get involved with a Jedi training programme as part of efforts to combat childhood obesity.

Actor Mark Hamill, who plays Skywalker in the film series, encouraged children to be “fit, healthy and strong”.

The comments come as Public Health England (PHE) launched its latest Change4Life initiative alongside Disney UK – Train Like a Jedi.

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Jade Jones on set, alongside BB-8, filming for the new Change4Life promotion (Matt Crossick/PA)

The training programme is led by British taekwondo gold medallist Jade Jones.

It involves a video with “Jedi inspired moves” to get children excited about exercise.

PHE said that children’s activity levels are “alarmingly low” – only 23% of boys and 20% of girls aged five to 15 get the required 60 minutes physical activity a day.

It said that the new training programme has been designed to make physical activity fun and inspire children to move more.

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Mark Hamill is encouraging children to get more active (Ian West/PA)

Hamill said: “If you want to become a Jedi like Luke Skywalker or Rey, then you need to be fit, healthy and strong.

“This summer Change4Life can help you Train Like A Jedi. May the Force be with you.”

Double Olympic gold medallist Jones, who is featured in the video along with Star Wars character BB-8, added: “Inspiring kids to get active is something I’m really passionate about, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to help kids across the country with Change4Life and Star Wars.

“It was great fun to create the Jedi-inspired moves which can be done anytime and anywhere – both at school and home. I hope that through this new programme we can inspire a new generation to move more by showing kids that physical activity can be really fun.”

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EMBARGOED TO 0001 WEDNESDAY JUNE 27EDITORIAL USE ONLYBritish taekwondo athlete Jade Jones leads the Train Like A Jedi activity programme. Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Eustace de Sousa, national lead for children at Public Health England said: “Children’s physical activity levels are alarmingly low and are having a major impact on their physical and mental health – both now and into adulthood.

“Getting into the habit of being regularly active will have lifelong benefits. Our Change4Life Train Like A Jedi programme is a great way for children, their friends and the whole family to get moving throughout the summer.”

Marianthi O’Dwyer, vice president for healthy living at The Walt Disney Company UK, added: “[By] using Star Wars characters and storytelling, we can help encourage children to be active by making it fun.”

Change4Life will provide schools with teaching resources linked to the training programme, which is supported by Sport England.

The video is available on the Change4Life website.

Meanwhile, tennis star Sir Andy Murray has also teamed up with the NHS to encourage people to be more physically active.

Murray will be supporting the children’s physical activity programme, the Daily Mile, in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales as well as Public Health England’s Change4Life initiative.

“I am a huge supporter of the NHS, but we all know it is under pressure,” he said.

“If we can increase levels of activity as a nation, it helps improve mood, self-esteem and energy, but it will also reduce the strain on the NHS by keeping us healthier.

“It’s especially important to instil these habits early and support and inspire young people to maintain them as they go through their teenage years.”

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