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Physical activity hustings: cross-party support for exercise as prevention

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Representatives from the three main political parties have backed the view that physical activity has a major role to play in the nation’s health by reducing the burden on the NHS.

A trio of politicians – Tom Watson, the deputy leader of the Labour Party; Nick King, the Conservative candidate for Makerfield, Greater Manchester; and Lord Addington, the Lords spokesperson for sport for the Liberal Democrats – made the pledge during a sport and physical activity hustings in London.

The panel agreed that, for prevention to have more impact, more work needs to be done to increase the opportunities for all parts of the population to engage in physical activity.

"If you want to save money, you have to get people active – it’s that easy," Lord Addington said.

Tom Watson, speaking about the public health crisis in the UK, added: "It requires middle-aged people with health-related conditions to be more active, as there will not be enough oncologists in 10 years’ time."

Jointly hosted by ukactive and the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the lively debate also saw all parties back other key election policies identified by ukactive – such as the rejuvenation of high streets, improving the health of young people and the creation of an active workforce.

The panel were also challenged on what their parties would do to reduce barriers for the leisure sector and encourage growth.

Nick King said that in relation to reviewing business rates, there is a clear opportunity to “put forward a case for physical activity”, following his party’s pledge to reduce rates for pubs, music venues and small cinemas.

Tom Watson spoke about an active workforce being a more productive workforce and, referencing evidence from the ukactive National Summit, said there is a “bottom-line interest to UK plc in ridding people of these public health conditions”.

Meanwhile, Lord Addington underlined his party’s stance on improving active travel by improving cycling networks to make the option easier for more people.

ukactive CEO Huw Edwards said: “One of these parties will be in power on 13 December. The opportunity tonight was for our sector to question them and on the role our sector can play for a more active, healthier society.

"ukactive is championing our members and getting them at the top table to help make decisions which will have a transformative impact on people’s lives across the country."

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Representatives from the three main political parties have backed the view that physical activity has a major role to play in the nation’s health by reducing the burden on the NHS.
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