Spending to fight physical inactivity nationwide doubles in a year

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12 November 2014

Spending to fight physical inactivity nationwide doubles in a year

Public health spending on England's 'inactivity epidemic' will double next year, says a report by not-for-profit health body, ukactive. Steps to solving inactivity also presents the findings of the largest review of physical activity programmes to date and says more needs to be done to capture and evaluate physical activity programme data.

ukactive's first local authority report Turning the tide of inactivity covered 2013-14 and defined physical inactivity as a major national public health issue linked to one in six premature deaths. Steps to solving inactivity conducted the same research for 2014-15.

The report found that councils have responded positively to the challenge by allocating 4 per cent of their public health grant to tackling inactivity in 2014/15 compared to just 2per cent in 2013/14. New data also reveals that more than 70 per cent of councils have raised their allocated budget on physical activity. 

According to the report that 29 per cent of people in England are physically inactive, meaning that they do less than 30mins of moderate physical activity per week, even though this can be done in three 10 minute bites. Steps to solving inactivity calls for more robust evaluation of physical activity programmes so the most effective can be commissioned and replicated at scale with demonstrable impact - a critical step in the fight to solve inactivity.  

The review of activity programmes found that only two out of 952 submissions could objectively evidence impact on participants. Steps to solving inactivity provides a guide to strengthening the evidence base for physical activity programmes, based on government-backed standards drawn up by leading innovation charity, Nesta. It showcases a wide range of case studies of physical activity programmes delivered across the country from workplaces and schools to GP practices, gyms, health clubs and leisure centres.

The report recommends:

  • Health and Wellbeing Boards have a designated physical activity champion who will specifically work to ensure its appropriate integration and provision based on local needs.


  • Cementing physical activity planning  into areas such as public health, social care, education, environmental planning and transport policies.


  • Implementing a more data-oriented approach to measuring programme outcomes and benchmarking progress across the physical activity sector.

The report also reveals that Olympic borough Newham has the lowest levels of activity in the country, with 39 per cent of residents inactive. Council representatives have responded by committing one of the country's highest inactivity investments of £2.1m or 15.6 per cent in 2014/15, a sizeable increase on the £216, 000 committed last year.


Other developments since ukactive's first report include a strategic partnership between ukactive, Public Health England, the Local Government Association and the County Sports Partnership Network. This delivered the first ever series of regional events across the country on the issue of physical activity. At a time of transition and integration, these events successfully brought 700 influencers from the activity sector together with public health professionals and local government leads to discuss the provision of physical based on local needs.

Public Health England have since launched a national framework, Everybody Active, Every Day and Sport England have extended and increased their Get Healthy, Get Active fund. 

CEO of ukactive David Stalker said:

"We've known for some time that we're facing an uphill battle to reverse the inactivity trend and while the increase in funding represents a seismic shift in thinking amongst local authorities, building a sound evidence base to underpin the activity will be the ultimate difference between success and failure."


The Prime Minister

The Rt Hon, David Cameron MP 

"I welcome this report from ukactive as further evidence of the need to tackle physical inactivity. This is why the work of ukactive is so important. I am delighted that local authorities are leading the way by starting to prioritise physical activity services in their local areas and in accordance to the local needs of their residents. The Government has made it clear through our 'Moving More, Living More' initiative that departments will work together, with the Mayor of London's teams, to embed physical activity into the DNA of the nation as part of the long term physical activity legacy from the 2012 Games."


The Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP,

Shadow Secretary of State for Health

"I welcome this report and support the work of ukactive on this important issue. Labour's ambition is to make physical activity core business of Government. For a country that loves sport as much as we do, it is appalling that we lag so far behind other developed countries when it comes to levels of physical activity. To turn the tide of inactivity, we need concerted action from Government, local authorities, business and the voluntary sector - all working together to play their part.


For further information, please contact syreetaclarke@ukactive.org.uk / 0207 400 8616 or jonwiffen@ukactive.org.uk / 0207 400 8638




1. ukactive's figures on inactivity levels are drawn from survey data. Its figures on council spending are drawn from FOI data.


2. The threshold for inactivity is defined as less than 30 minutes of moderately intense activity a week over a 28 day period. This activity can be split in to 10 minute chunks, lowering the bar further. According to the report, 29per cent of the population in England failed to achieve this threshold. The impact of this is significant for health and wellbeing. Inactivity is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability, and directly contributes to one in six deaths in the UK. This makes it as dangerous as smoking. Inactive people are at increased risk of up to 20 non-communicable diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes and dementia.


About ukactive

ukactive is the UK's leading  not-for-profit health body for  the physical activity sector, with over 3,500 members from activity providers to major consumer brands, training facilities and equipment manufacturers. Members come from across the private, public and third sector and are united by ukactive's longstanding and uncompromising commitment to getting more people, more active, more often.

 ukactive facilitates big impact partnerships, conceives and drives breakthrough campaigns, conducts critical research and galvanises key stakeholders to develop and deliver key projects that support and champion the physical activity agenda. The organisation's efforts are centred around supporting a national ambition to "Turn the tide of physical inactivity"


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