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LEAP pilot results revealed

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The results of a £2.5m pilot scheme to combat physical inactivity have been revealed by the Department of Health.

The results stem from the findings of Local Exercise Action Pilots (LEAP), which tested ways of helping less active people to do more exercise between 2003 and 2005.

Ten LEAP pilot sites were spread around the UK including Wigan, Dudley, Great Yarmouth, Wandsworth, Plymouth and Nottingham.

Different community approaches were used in each pilot in order to increase physical activity in deprived areas.

Physical activity interventions in the pilot schemes – such as exercise referrals or motivation interviewing – were found to be consistently cost-effective and, in the long term should enable the NHS to save money by reducing ill-health.

A broad range of people were engaged by the LEAP pilots – from people under 18 to older adults – while a diverse range of physical activity projects took place including street dance, senior peer mentoring and free swimming.

Speaking at the LEAP conference at London’s Emirates Stadium on 5 December, public health minister Caroline Flint said: “It is very promising to see that many of the pilots have been able to increase activity levels, particularly in sedentary and lightly active groups. A fitter nation means a healthier nation which will produce real cost-savings for the NHS.”

At the conference, Flint also launched the General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPPAQ), which will help GPs and nurses assess patients’ activity levels so that those at greatest risk from inactivity can be more accurately assessed. Details: www.dh.gsi.gov.uk

Photograph: Public health minister Caroline Flint

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The results of a £2.5m pilot scheme to combat physical inactivity have been revealed by the Department of Health.
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