CHILDREN in Swindon are being encouraged to get active through sword fencing.

Heart Research UK, alongside Swindon’s Subway stores, are supporting more than 500 local youngsters to get involved in the sport.

Two pupils from East Wichel Primary School have just become the 500th and 501st children in Swindon to benefit from healthy heart learning through fencing.

Over four weeks, two classes learnt how to find and measure their heart rate before and after exercise, and what a balanced diet contains.

They then diarised how much time they spend being active and inactive, and produced their own healthy heart and mind plan to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.

They also got to grips with different aspects of a physically demanding and mentally challenging sport.

From a class of complete beginners, they learnt how to stand ‘en guarde’, move backwards and forwards, and how to use space to lure their opponents into striking distance.

Lessons focused on the benefits of attacks and the need for a solid defence to prevent being hit.

Coach and class leader Neil Bromley said: “The children have really taken to the idea of healthy living.

“When it came to the fencing, they got a buzz from a different type of physical exercise while learning lots too.

“Fencing is great for all-round fitness, muscle toning, building core strength, coordination and balance.

“Fencing’s unique mix of physical and intellectual stimulation can burn approximately 400 calories per hour, so the children certainly get a workout each session

“Since you need to make lightning-fast decisions, it is also excellent for concentration and focus, all of which I think appeals to children regardless of their age.”

Liberty, the 500th pupil to complete the course, said “The whole programme was awesome, from learning about the heart, to how important a good night’s sleep is.

“The highlight was the fencing. It’s a great way to have fun, practicing different ways of scoring hits without being hit myself.”

Sarah Mirfin, Healthy Heart co-ordinator at Heart Research UK, said: “Boosting your heart health doesn’t have to be a double-edge sword – you can do it through a fun, engaging sport like fencing.

“You’re never too young or old to look after your heart.”

The project is funded by a Heart Research UK and Subway Healthy Heart Grant, which provides up to £10,000 to local community projects, and pupils in Years 5 and 6 in all Swindon primary schools have the opportunity to experience four hours of this exciting sport.

Professional coaches from Swindon Fencing Club deliver the classes and slots can now be booked by contacting Neil Bromley via email or 07527 546164.