Health Matters: Getting every adult active every day

One in four women and one in five men in England are physically inactive, doing less than 30 minutes moderate physical activity a week- says Health Matters

The guidelines recommend muscle strengthening activities twice a week, but only 34% of men and 24% of women are achieving this.

So why are so many adults struggling to be physically active?  Many people equate physical activity to sweaty gym sessions, and are put off by this, and do not realise that moderate physical activity can be achieved through everyday life through activities such as:

  • brisk walking
  • dancing
  • cycling
  • gardening

As long as the activity causes you to get warmer and breathe harder and for your heart to beat faster then it counts as moderate physical activity. Any physical activity is better than none. As little as 10 minutes of moderate physical activity at a time provides numerous health benefits.  Physical activity can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.

Persuading inactive people  to become more active could prevent one in ten cases of stroke and heart disease in the UK and one in six deaths from any cause. In fact it’s often said that if physical activity was a drug it would be classed as a wonder drug.

That’s why the latest strategy from Sport England focuses, for the first time, on encouraging inactive and underrepresented groups to become more active. This is where the greatest individual, community and economic gains can be made.

This edition of Health Matters adopts PHE’s national physical activity framework, Everybody Active Every Day, which identifies four areas for local and national action that can help to get people active.

  1. Active Society – People are more likely to be active if it is seen as ‘normal’, and if their friends and peers are also active.
  2. Moving professionals – 1 in 4 patients would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse.
  3. Active environments – Our homes, workplaces and local environments should be designed to encourage physically active.
  4. Moving at scale – Positive change needs to happen at every level, in every region and be measurable.

Read the physical activity edition of Health Matters for more on what local authorities and health professionals can do to get the nation active

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