Turning the tide of inactivity

Release date: 31 January 2014

Turning the tide of inactivity aims to clearly show the rising issue of physical inactivity across the UK.

It is the first time that the scale and impact of inactivity has been established in this way and provides compelling evidence for establishing it as a public health concern in its own right.

Key findings


  • One in four people in England fail to achieve more than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week over a 28-day period even though they can do it in three ten-minute bites.
  • There is a broad relationship between levels of physical inactivity and socio-economic status.
  • Highest deprivation areas are almost 10 per cent more physically inactive than lowest deprivation areas.

Premature mortality

  • There is a broad relationship between levels of physical inactivity andpremature death.
  • Areas with the highest levels of physically inactivity have the highest levels of premature mortality.
  • Areas with the lowest levels of physically inactivity have the lowest levels of premature mortality.
  • This relationship becomes even stronger when put into the context of socio-economic deprivation.

Cost and spend

  • There is a disproportionately low spend on programmes to tackle physical inactivity by local authorities compared to other top tier public health concerns.
  • Reducing physical inactivity by just one per cent a year over a five year period would save local authorities £1.2 billion.

Leisure facilities

  • The most inactive local authorities have on average a third fewer facilities than the least inactive areas.

Green spaces

  • There is no significant relationship between the volume of green space in a local authority and its level of physical inactivity.
  • The utilisation of green space, rather than its volume, is the determining factor in reducing levels of physical inactivity.


Government should:

  • Develop and deliver a cross-party, cross-government and crosssector national inactivity strategy.
  • Put greater investment into researching inactivity programmes that can be applied to everyday settings.
  • Improve the collation, coordination and breadth of physical inactivity data for adults and children within a single UK-wide framework.
  • Extend the National Child Measurement Programme to include
  • the measurement of children's physical activity and fitness levels alongside weight and height.
  • Ensure that health care professionals receive comprehensive training on the specific physical, mental and social risks of physical inactivity.

Local authorities should:

  • Prioritise and resource physical inactivity programmes to the same level as other top tier public health risks.
  • Deliver physical inactivity strategies independently of obesity and weight management.
  • Invest in evidence-based programmes that engage inactive groups.
  • Partner with all local activity and sports providers to deliver a local ambition of a one per cent reduction in inactivity year-on year for the next five years.
  • Ensure that their green spaces are developed to make them
  • safe and accessible whilst integrating them into their leisure and physical inactivity strategies.
  • Extend the management and administration of their green spaces to include leisure and public health planning teams.
  • Be required to consider the impact of physical inactivity in regeneration and spacial plans.

The activity sector should:

  • Focus on engaging and supporting inactive people.
  • Deliver evidence-based programmes tailored towards inactive groups.
  • Better record, analyse and evaluate the users of their facilities and effectiveness of their programmes to improve the evidence base.




Lets Get Moving