What is the Size of the Problem?

Anne Boyd, CEO of Active Cheshire said, “inactivity is cited as one of the most important public health problems of the 21st century. It not only contributes to a range of physical health issues, such as increased risk of some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, but also mental health.”

Inactivity: The Costs & Effects

Why is Physical Activity so Important?

Regular physical activity is an important part of living well and general wellbeing. People who lead an active lifestyle are less likely to develop serious illnesses and health conditions and more likely to live longer, healthier lives.

In the recent decades, people are increasingly less active day-to-day. Most of us drive cars or take public transport rather than cycling or walking to work – with more of us having sedentary jobs that involves sitting down and fewer of us working in manual jobs.

Many then leave work or school to watch TV, use phones, computers and tablets as entertainment in the evening. Too much prolonged sitting can cause serious health problems as it is thought to slow your metabolism, affecting the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and break down body fat which in turn can increase your chances of getting a number serious health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers.

There is overwhelming evidence proving that we should all be more physically active. It’s crucial if you want to live a healthy, fulfilling life into old age. The easiest way of becoming more active is to make physical activity part of your everyday life. There are simple ways of achieving a more active lifestyle and the more you move, the more you benefit in terms of your health.

Did you know that being active on a regular basis has hundreds of proven health benefits, for example:

  • Up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • Up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Up to a 50% lower risk of colon cancer
  • Up to a 30% lower risk of premature death
  • Up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • Up to a 20% lower risk of breast cancer
  • Up to an 83% lower risk of osteoarthritis
  • Up to a 68% lower risk of hip fracture
  • A 30% lower risk of falls (among older adults)
  • Up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

Public Health research also suggests that being regularly active can give you more energy, reduce stress levels, improve your general mood and self-confidence as well as improving sleep quality.

How we live our lives has changed significantly over the past few decades and we are now less physically active than at any time in human history. At the same time, more evidence has been gathered that links physical inactivity with a growing range of acute, chronic and life threatening diseases, as well as poor mental health.

There is growing recognition that physical environments that support and encourage physical activity can help improve the public’s health. However human movement represents a complex behaviour that is influenced by a combination of personal motivation, health and mobility issues, genetic factors, and the social and physical environments in which people live. These factors undoubtedly exert an influence on the propensity to engage in sedentary behaviours as well as in physical activity.

Increasing physical activity is, therefore, a societal, not just an individual problem, thus demanding a population-based, multi-sectoral, multi-disciplinary, enabling and culturally relevant approach.

Despite significant investment, hard work and strong progress, more than 178,000 local adults in Cheshire and Warrington continue to lead sedentary lifestyles. We know that many of this cohort will face wider health and social inequalities, exacerbated by their lack of regular movement.

Professor Steven Broomhead – Chair, Physical Activity Task Force

A Picture of Health in Cheshire & Warrington

The Active Lives Survey is nationwide survey that provides detailed and reliable insight into the physical activity habits of the nation. Active Lives is much broader than Sport England’s previous Active People survey, for example it includes walking, cycling for travel and dance in addition to the sporting and fitness activities previously reported on.

The survey looks at patterns of behaviour over a twelve month period rather than just four weeks. The results below are pulled out of the data tables from the Sport England report and compared sub-regionally against the national picture and at local authority level against the North West.

 

How much of physical activity is recommended?

Guidelines and Examples

Babies

Active throughout the day, every day

Light activity (pre-crawling) encouraging reaching and grasping, pulling and pushing, moving their head, body, and limbs during daily routines, and during supervised floor play, including tummy time.

Energetic activity (post-crawling) encourage them to be as active as possible in a safe, supervised and nurturing play environment


Toddlers

180 minutes every day – combination of Light and Energetic activity

Light activity Including standing up, moving around, rolling and playing

Energetic activity Including skipping, hopping, running and jumping. Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in the water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to get moving.


Pre-school

180 minutes every day – combination of Light and Energetic activity

Light activity Including standing up, moving around, walking and less energetic play

Energetic activity Including skipping, hopping, running and jumping. Active play, such as using a climbing frame, riding a bike, playing in water, chasing games and ball games, is the best way for this age group to get moving.


School Age (those aged 5-18years old)

At least 60 minutes every day – combination of light and energetic activity with three days a week to involve muscle and bone strengthening exercises

Light activity Including walking to school, playing in the playground, riding a scooter, skateboard, rollerblading or cycling on flat ground and walking the dog

Energetic activity Including playing chase, energetic dancing, swimming, running, gymnastics, football, rugby, martial arts such as karate and cycling fast or on hilly terrain

Strength activity Includes games such as tug of war, swinging on playground equipment bars, gymnastics, rope or tree climbing, sit-ups, press-ups and sports like football, rugby, tennis


Adults (those aged 19 to 64)

At least 150 minutes every week – combination of light and energetic activity and strength exercises on two or more days a week

Light activity Includes brisk walking, water aerobics, riding a bike on level ground, pushing a lawn mower, hiking, skateboarding, rollerblading

Energetic activity Includes jogging or running, swimming fast riding a bike fast or on hills, sports like; football, rugby, hockey or active skipping, aerobics, gymnastics and martial arts

Strength activity

Includes lifting weights, working with resistance bands, doing exercises that use your own body weight such as push-ups and sit-ups, heavy gardening such as digging and shoveling or yoga.


Older adults (those aged 65 and over)

At least 150 minutes every week – light activity and strength exercises on two or more days a week

Light activity

Includes walking, water aerobics, ballroom and line dancing, riding a bike on level ground or with few hills, playing racket sports like badminton or tennis, pushing a lawn mower or canoeing

Strength activity

Includes carrying or moving heavy loads, such as groceries, activities that involve stepping and jumping, heavy gardening such as digging or shovelling, exercises that use your body weight such as push-ups or sit-ups, yoga or lifting weights.

Death and illness linked to physical inactivity is at disturbing levels, increasingly so in developing countries, and the world needs to take action to reverse this worrying trend.

Dr Timothy Armstrong, World Health Organisation (WHO)

Active Cheshire