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Physical inactivity: economic costs to NHS clinical commissioning groups

An analysis of the Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries and Risk Factors Study found physical inactivity and low physical activity to be among the ten most important risk factors in England. It is estimated that physical inactivity contributes to almost one in ten premature deaths (based on life expectancy estimates for world regions) from coronary heart disease and one in six deaths from any cause.

Health Survey for England data shows no overall change between 2008 and 2012 in the percentage of adults reaching recommended levels of physical activity (although the introduction of new recommendations in 2011 mean that there is limited long-term trend data for individuals achieving physical activity targets). Some regional variation in physical activity levels are still apparent in the country with the highest percentages of men and women achieving the recommended levels of physical activity found in the South East and the lowest levels found in the North. Similarly, the highest levels of physical inactivity are found in the North West for men (26%) and women (31%). Inequalities in physical activity are also evident across characteristics within the Equality Act 2010, including disabled people being half as likely to be active as the general population.

Inactivity or sedentary behaviour is associated with poor health at all ages. Sedentary behaviour is not simply a lack of physical activity, as people can achieve recommended levels of physical activity but spend large amounts of the remaining time sedentary. The association between inactivity and poor health has been found to be independent of the level of overall physical activity. Even among individuals who are active at the recommended levels, spending large amounts of time sedentary may increase risk of some adverse health outcomes.