INACTIVE students are being urged to get off their sofas and get fit after a new initiative was launched after shockingly low levels of exercise were identified.

Middlesbrough College has been given £136,000 funding from Sport England to reduce the number of their students who are completing less than thirty minutes of activity each week.

The charity’s ‘Towards an Active Nation’ funding will be used to provide physical activity that will support students to get back in to sport and to get more active.

Around one in five college students in the country are inactive and many come from groups that have lower socio-economic status or from ethnic groups that are less likely to be active.

Colleges in the programme will target these groups specifically to reduce the activity gap between them and their student peers.

Zoe Lewis, principal and chief executive of Middlesbrough College, said: "We are ambitious for our students," she said. "Setting them up to excel in work, further study or training means looking after their physical and mental wellbeing as well as their academic or vocational achievements."

The initiative will provide students with the opportunity to take part in activities across the college and within the local community. A timetabled sport programme will be available to students throughout the week, offering a variety of sports.

James Hartley, the charity's project lead, said: “The project will be great as we will promote that you don’t have to be ‘sporty’ to get involved, and it will be open and available to all students.

"Getting active and involved in physical activity is great, as it has so many other benefits for our students.

"Whilst it will support their physical and mental wellbeing, sport can aid improved academic performance, improved attendance at college, improved social interaction and peer relationships."