The government has unveiled plans to enable over-60s to swim for free in a move that is hoped will reduce the number of people needing obesity treatment.
Experts are concerned that a lack of exercise is likely to be one of the main reasons behind the ongoing rise in people needing obesity treatment such as gastric band surgery.
According to health secretary Alan Johnson, nearly nine tenths of adults and two thirds of children are set to be overweight or obese by 2050 unless people start to eat more healthily and do more exercise.
"Swimming is all-round good exercise - whatever age you are," he revealed.
"Subsidised gyms and free swims will help the nation to get fitter and build physical activity into people's lives."
The plans are backed by a new £140 million fund which will help to pay for free swimming for the over-60s.
Ministers hope that it will also encourage local authorities to offer free swimming for under-16s and to improve their leisure facilities.