Public Health England should invest in outdoor activities, says Sport and Recreation Alliance
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Public Health England should invest in outdoor activities, says Sport and Recreation Alliance

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Public health England and the Department of Health (DoH) should plough investment into outdoor recreation to take on issues like obesity, according to the chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

Talking to Sports Management shortly after the publication of the Alliance’s Reconomics Plus report, Emma Boggis said that activities such as cycling, walking and orienteering could have a huge impact on the nation’s mental and physical health.

Improving rates of positive mental health and obesity – both a growing cause for concern in the UK – would likely have a significant effect on the NHS at a time when budgets are being stretched.

Outdoor recreation was referenced several times in the government’s Sporting Future strategy and Sport England’s Towards an Active Nation plan, and Boggis said the sector had an opportunity to bid for more funding and heighten its position in the public’s consciousness.

“What we’ve seen since both the government and Sport England strategies is an elevation of the role of outdoor recreation,” she said.

“Perhaps in the past it has been a bit of a poor relation to hardcore sport now people actually understand the breadth of what it brings. We want to see it running through all of government policy.”

Reconomics Plus was published to bring all of the evidence around the economic and health benefits relation to outdoor recreation “together in one place”.

It includes case studies, such as parkour’s positive effect on people with long-term mental health problems and cycling’s role in getting people physically active more often.

When the original Reconomics report was unveiled in 2014, it led to a parliamentary debate about the role of outdoor recreation in improving society, leading to its inclusion within Sporting Future.

Boggis is hopeful that the current publication has a similar impact.

“Recently we have seen commitments from the Department of Transport about walking and cycling and from the Department of Environment and Rural Affairs in relation to its new 25-year plan,” she said.

“We want to see outdoor recreation at the heart of that.”

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