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Everybody Active, Every Day: Two years on

An update on the national physical activity framework

Around one in two women and a third of men in England are damaging their health through a lack of physical activity. Over one in four women and one in five men are classified as ‘inactive’ by doing less than 30 minutes activity a week. In some local communities only one in ten adults are active enough to stay healthy  and there are significant inequalities between different demographic groups (eg gender, race, disability and age).

Physical inactivity remains one of the top ten causes of disease and disability in England and is responsible for one in six deaths in the UK,; the same number as smoking. It costs the UK an estimated £7.4 billion a year and the ongoing decline in activity seen since the 1960s will put increasing pressure on strained health and social care, and the quality of life for individuals and communities, unless addressed. The PROMISE Study, commissioned by the Richmond Group, highlighted twelve interventions that could support the UK to achieve the World Health Organization target to reduce premature mortality by 25% by 2025, including three specifically related to increasing physical activity

The UK Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) have made clear recommendations for the amount of physical activity and muscle strengthening activity that is most beneficial for health at the three stages of the life course. In 2015/16 PHE supported their translation into infographics to facilitate their understanding and adoption into practice.

In October 2014, Public Health England (PHE) published Everybody Active, Every Day as the national physical activity framework for England. It drew on the international evidence base and was co-produced with over 1,000 different individuals and organisations. It set out the need for action across four domains at national and local levels (Active society, Moving Professionals, Active environments and Moving at scale). The core document was supported by a ‘What works – the evidence’ document, a toolkit for MPs and a collation of local emerging and promising practice developed with ukactive and the National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM).

After two years one would expect negligible changes in statistics at a national scale. This is due to data collection cycles, as well as the timescale for impact from intervention to population shift (especially for built environment interventions). However, this should not be misinterpreted, as international evidence demonstrates that mobilising the nation takes years to achieve significant and sustained changes in the statistical data at a population level.

However, it is positive that between 2013 and 2015-17 there has been a statistically significant 1% increase in the proportion of the population across local areas achieving the recommended 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity each week. This represents over half a million more people whose health and wellbeing is benefiting from being active every day. Increases have been seen in all nine regions of England and at local authority level around 60% of authorities have seen improvement.