Make physical activity the bedrock of Britain, says ukactive Blueprint
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Make physical activity the bedrock of Britain, says ukactive Blueprint

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Physical activity should be embedded into every aspect of society, says ukactive, which will today (5 November) publish a new call-to-arms Blueprint urging the government to make overcoming inactivity a top-tier public health priority.

ukactive chair Tanni Grey-Thompson will tell delegates at today’s ukactive Summit in London that physical activity referrals and sessions should be available in Britain’s GP surgeries, workplaces, job centres and care homes if the UK is to turn the tide on its physical inactivity pandemic. Lack of exercise is estimated to cause 37,000 deaths annually and cost the economy £20bn per year.

The Blueprint for an Active Britain continues ukactive’s ongoing efforts to have physical activity recognised as a top-tier public health concern which is separate and equal in importance to obesity. ukactive says the Blueprint brings “the latest in evidence-based policy discourse on a range of areas into one place, creating a central platform from which this movement can continue to gather pace.”

Central to achieving this aim will be the ability of ukactive to persuade the government of the urgent need for action in the form of a Cabinet-led Physical Activity Strategy. The report calls for input from various government departments and the physical activity sector to establish long-term, ambitious targets, with significant funding committed to achieving them.

Although many of the initiatives put forward in the Blueprint have previously fallen on deaf ears, ukactive believes that the coalition of health experts behind the Blueprint – including former health minister and surgeon Lord Darzi, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), Royal Society of Public Health, the Nuffield Trust, Mind and Age UK – could help the policy calls to reach critical mass.

ukactive is also encouraged by its recent poll of 100 MPs, which found 57 per cent believe physical inactivity is one of the top two health issues facing the UK right now. Meanwhile, nearly 80 per cent of MPs feel that physical inactivity should be a higher priority for government.

“What we’ve set out, together with a coalition of health experts, is a plan for how we can build physical activity into everybody’s lives,” said Grey-Thompson.

“With precious public services like the NHS already stretched to breaking point, we’ve got to be bolder about prevention - and that starts with getting people moving more.”

Other interesting policies put forward in the Blueprint include the appointment of a ‘Physical Activity Tsar’ for NHS England, tasked with implementing new initiatives such as ‘exercise on prescription’ for everyone who would benefit from preventative health action. There are also calls for the provision of low-interest loans to small firms to allow them to invest in physical activity schemes for staff.

Workplace wellness is a theme which ukactive board member Dame Carol Black is particularly passionate about.

“Today many jobs are sedentary, offering very little physical activity. We now know that this is harmful,” said Black, who is former president of the Royal College of Physicians and a regular advisor to Prime Minister David Cameron.

“We must now take seriously the need to restore physical activity into the workplace and to support employers and employees to move more and sit less, to safeguard their health.”

Health Club Management will be on hand throughout today’s Summit, providing live updates via Twitter and our website.

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Physical activity should be embedded into every aspect of society, says ukactive, which will today (5 November) publish a new call-to-arms Blueprint urging the government to make overcoming inactivity a top-tier public health priority.
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