Regular physically activity has significant health and wellbeing benefits 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 coronary heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes, mental health problems and social isolation. 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 reduce congestion and reduce air pollution.
The UK Chief Medical Officers Guidelines sets out the recommended amount and type of physical activity 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 responsible for one in six UK deaths (equal to smoking) and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually.
Nationally around 1 in 3 (34%) of men and 1 in 2 (42%) of women are not active enough for good health. 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.
Below you can find a range of documents and information relating to physical activity: