Package of measures to combat physical inactivity

A package of measures to help inactive people become fitter have been unveiled by Public Health Minister Caroline Flint, in her first physical activity announcement since taking up her new role to improve the nation's fitness.

Package of measures to combat physical inactivity.

Minister Spearheads Physical Activity Initiatives.

A package of measures to help inactive people become fitter have been unveiled by Public Health Minister Caroline Flint, in her first physical activity announcement since taking up her new role to improve the nation's fitness.

Ms Flint has announced the findings of the £2.5 million Local Exercise Action Pilots which tested different ways of helping less active people to do more exercise.

In each pilot different community approaches to increasing physical activity in deprived areas were put in place. The pilots demonstrated that physical activity interventions are cost-effective and can save the NHS money in the long-term by reducing ill-health. LEAP has also shown that it is possible to engage a broad range of people, and to increase physical activity levels.

Data collected found:

Exercise referral scheme: Resulted in almost 70 per cent of those who were sedentary or lightly active to achieve or exceed recommended levels of physical activity. This was effective for adults and older adults.

Classes and groups: Effectively engaged young people under 18. Half of those who were largely inactive began achieving or exceeding the recommended levels of physical activity at intervention.

Classes and groups were found to address lack of confidence.

Motivational Interviewing: Effectively inspired the over 50's. More than 85 per cent of participants who were sedentary or lightly active came to achieve or exceed recommended levels of physical activity.

The diverse range of physical activity projects that took place in pilots included: over 50's leisure weeks,free swimming, senior peer mentoring and street dance.

A broad range of people were attracted to the LEAP interventions and engaged in physical activity, including people who were sedentary, at risk of particular health conditions and from priority groups such as younger people, older people and those from ethnic minorities.

The Minister has also launched the General Practice Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPPAQ) which will help GPs and Practice Nurses assess patients' activity levels so that healthcare practitioners and local commissioners can target those at greatest risk from inactivity.

After patients complete the questionnaire, they will be given physical activity advice as appropriate and information on opportunities to become more active. The LEAP findings will assist PCTs and local authorities to establish effective local opportunities for physical activity.

The questionnaire paves the way towards the possible establishment of an NHS physical activity care pathway which would ensure patients with most to gain are supported to become more active.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said: "As part of my role to help increase the nation's fitness, I am championing a host of different measures such as Local Exercise Action Pilots and the GP Physical Activity Questionnaire which make it easier for people to become more physically active.

"It is very promising to see many of the Pilots have been able to increase participant's activity levels, particularly in sedentary and lightly active groups.

"Almost three quarters of adults do not achieve the recommended weekly amounts of physical activity. This is worrying as keeping physically active helps to prevent and manage more than 20 conditions and diseases such as coronary heart disease and cancer so it is vital that we do everything we can to support people to adopt more active lifestyles.

"A fitter nation means a healthier nation which will produce real cost-savings for the NHS."

Mihir Warty, Sport England Director of Policy and LEAP conference Chair, said: "Sport and active recreation have an important role to play in the drive to get the nation more active. Sport England plays a central role in this work and, alongside DH and Natural England, we are delighted to have supported these innovative LEAP projects . "The pilots provide some useful lessons that will help inform our work going forward and the LEAP conference is a good opportunity to share this good practice."

Minister for Biodiversity, Landscape and Rural Affairs Barry Gardiner said:

"The LEAP Pilots demonstrate how much can be achieved by working in partnership to help people become more active and healthy.

"But a healthy lifestyle is not only vital for us as individuals - it's also vital for the health of our natural environment.

"For example, just by leaving the car at home for short journeys, and walking or cycling instead, we can help to tackle both climate change and air pollution.

"I believe that by building on these important Pilots we can help people towards a more active way of life which will be good both for them and the environment. "

Helen Phillips, Natural England's Chief Executive, said: "Building on from the successful LEAP pilot project, Natural England has started a campaign to encourage people to use the natural environment to increase their activity levels.
"We look forward to continuing working with the Department of Health and other partners to deliver this exciting new campaign."

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