'If physical activity were a drug, we’d talk about it as a miracle cure.' This is a quote from Professor Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Government (2017)
1 in 6 UK deaths is due to physical inactivity. This is the same as deaths due to smoking. The cost to the UK is about £7.4 billion a year. This includes £0.9 billion to the NHS alone.
Unfortunately, our population is around 20 per cent less active than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, our population will be 35 per cent less active by 2030. Currently around 1 in 3 men and 1 in 2 women are not active enough for good health.
People with disabilities and long-term conditions are twice as likely to not be active enough.
Many people don’t realise that physical activity has significant benefits for physical and mental health. It can also prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases. This includes some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.
Studies show that you can see the positive effects of small amounts of physical activity. Doing the minimum recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day, 5 times a week, can make a significant difference to your health.
A little goes a long way.
The main health benefits of physical activity
The image above illustrates that regular physical activity reduces your risk of:
- all cause morality by 30 per cent
- cardiovascular disease by up to 35 per cent
- type 2 diabetes by up to 40 per cent
- colon cancer by 30 per cent
- breast cancer by 20 per cent
- depression by up to 30 per cent
- hip fractures by up to 68 per cent
- dementia by up to 30 per cent
Source: Public Health England, Applying All Our Health, 2019.
Walking is the answer to get more people active
Walking is one of the most accessible physical activities, and the most popular. It has the greatest potential to help people affected by low physical activity levels and poor health.
Walking is a free, gentle, low-impact activity that does not need special training or equipment. Most people can do it, anywhere and at any time.
It's the ideal exercise to incorporate into your life, you can start slowly and build up over time. Walking connects people and can reduce social isolation. It also improves your wellbeing by producing chemicals in your body that impact mood, sleep quality and helps reduce stress.