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ukactive acting CEO Huw Edwards said: “Today’s Active Lives Survey reinforces that the physical activity sector is the backbone of the active nation, helping to drive an increase of almost 500,000 adults that are now meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity a week.

“The figures demonstrate that the message is getting through about the importance of embedding physical activity into our daily lives, with more people walking for leisure and travel. It also highlights that our sector is having a growing impact on the way that people choose to be active, with fitness activities – driven by gym sessions – the most popular activities after walking.

“Furthermore, Sport England has highlighted the green shoots of growth among disabled people and those with long-term health conditions, demonstrating the scale of the impact our sector is having across society.

“It is crucial that both the NHS and Government recognise this by placing our sector at the very heart of delivering the NHS Long Term Plan, and by making it integral to the upcoming Green Papers on social care and prevention.

“Finally, there is an opportunity for our sector to not only deepen, but also establish, relationships across the traditional sports that can foster long-term partnerships to drive activity levels further.

“Collective success will only come from engaging everyone in society with physical activity, and in turn delivering a healthier and more active nation.”