Screenshot 2014-11-04 at 13.39.12OLYMPIC athlete Chris Tomlinson is jumping behind a new drive to promote health and well-being in Middlesbrough.

The long jumper will help to formally launch Extra Life at a special event to at Teesside University on Wednesday (November 5).

Extra Life is a new preventative approach which will see four of Teesside’s largest employers working in collaboration for the first time to improve work environments and boost the health and wellbeing of staff, students and the local community.

Teesside University, Middlesbrough Council, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Middlesbrough College are joining forces to create a supportive environment to help people get active in familiar surroundings.

The unique health improvement programme has been developed by Middlesbrough Council’s Public Health team to be adaptable to any large organisation in the public, private or voluntary sector.

The aim is to help reduce the direct cost of sickness absence to the economy which currently stands at around £14 billion every year.

Last year an estimated 131 million days were lost to sickness absence in the UK, while up to 50% of health and wellbeing is thought to be determined by environmental and social factors.

Middlesbrough rate of premature deaths linked to lifestyle choices is also higher than the national average, with contributory factors including smoking, poor diet
and a lack of physical activity.

Edward Kunonga, Middlesbrough Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “Middlesbrough suffers from poor health outcomes and a high number of people dying early from preventable illnesses.

“The evidence tells us that health and wellbeing is highly influenced by, and dependent upon the environment people live, work and socialise in and this makes these organisations – places where people go as part of their daily lives – an ideal place to deliver Extra Life.”