FOOTBALLERS pitched in to give a lesson in how to keep a healthy heart as they launched a new programme encouraging the town’s youngsters to get fit.

Bolton Wanderers stars Keith Andrews and Andy Lonergan visited SS Simon and Jude’s Primary School in Great Lever to speak to children about health and fitness.

They are supporting a project called Heart of Football, run by Bolton Wanderers Community Trust, which aims to improve the health of year five to year eight pupils.

The scheme is funded by a £9,000 grant from charity Heart Research UK and fast food chain Subway.

It involves teaching schoolchildren how to keep their heart healthy through exercise while also explaining lifestyle risks to their heart, such as smoking.

It is hoped the scheme will help tackle Bolton’s obesity crisis.

More than half of the town’s adults are either overweight or obese — 57.6 per cent of men and 46.6 per cent of women.

Bolton’s life expectancy is two years lower than the UK average because of its obesity problem.

More than 500 children from primary and high schools will take part in the programme and will be given the opportunity of joining club mascots and players in a special match day experience at the Reebok Stadium .

Mr Lonergan said: “As a father myself, it’s reassuring to know that schoolchildren are being educated from a young age about the importance of exercise and healthy lifestyle choices.

“The kids all seem to be having a great time and really taking a lot from it.”

Mr Andrews added “It’s vital that we have a prominent role in our local communities and do what we can to give something back to those who support us.

“It’s been great for Andy and me to come to the school and pass on a bit of knowledge about taking care of your body and eating the right foods.

“I even learned a few things too.”

The players’ visit was given added poignancy after their teammate Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest when he collapsed on the pitch in the FA Cup quarter final against Tottenham in March.

He has since recovered but has been forced to retire from football.