Regular physical activity is one of the building blocks helping to improve health and wellbeing, and the evidence to support these benefits for all ages and groups has become more compelling in recent years.
In children and young people, regular physical activity is associated with improved learning and attainment, better mental health and cardiovascular fitness, also contributing to healthy weight status.
In adults, there is strong evidence to demonstrate the protective effect of physical activity on a range of many chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer and type 2 diabetes. It also has positive effects on mental health and can support social inclusion. Regular physical activity can deliver cost savings for the health and care system and has wider social benefits for individuals and communities. These include increased productivity in the workplace, and active travel can help reduce congestion and air pollution and have co-benefits for climate change.
The UK Chief Medical Officers Guidelines sets out the recommended amount and type of physical activity that infants through to older adults should be doing to improve their health. The guidelines were updated in 2019 and emphasise the importance of regular physical activity for people of all ages, and for the first time presents additional guidance on being active during pregnancy, after giving birth, and for disabled adults. The risks associated with inactivity and sedentary behaviour on health are also highlighted.
Nationally, the population is around 20% less active than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, it will be 35% less active by 2030. Physical inactivity is associated with one in six UK deaths and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually.
Around 37% of men and 40% of women in England do not meet the recommended physical activity guidelines. In Nottinghamshire, for adults, this figure is around 38% with 114,000 (14%) adults doing no physical activity at all. People in lower socio-economic groups (LSEGs) are the most likely to be inactive (33%) and the least likely to be active (54%). Physical Activity levels also decrease as deprivation increases, from 72% active in the least deprived areas, to 57% in the most deprived areas.
Additionally in England, 1 in 2 children (55%) are not meeting recommended physical activity guidelines with 30% (2.2 million) doing less than an average of 30 minutes a day. In Nottinghamshire, around 56% do not meet the recommended guidelines.
Physical activity varies with age and life stage. People tend to get less active with age, especially in older years. People with disabilities or long-term conditions are twice as likely not to be active enough for good health. Ethnic groups, on average, also have differing physical activity levels, with Asian, black, ‘other’ and Chinese ethnic groups being lower than the England average.
*Sport England adult physical activity data from the Active Lives survey 2020-2021 found adult physical inactivity in England and Nottinghamshire to be higher than Public Health England (PHE) adult physical inactivity data 2020-2021. This is due to PHE including gardening minutes as physical activity.
Below you can find a range of documents and information relating to physical activity: