Physical Activity – At least moderate intensity physical activity, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. (Vigorous activity counts as double.) Sport England count most sports and physically activity but exclude gardening. However, Public Health England does include gardening in its local level physical activity data.
Moderate Activity – activities such as brisk walking or cycling, that causes adults to get warmer and breathe harder and their hearts to beat faster, but they can still carry on a conversation
Vigorous Activity – is a more intensive activity level, where you are unable to say more than a few words without taking a breath,
Inactive – less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week
Fairly active – 30-149 minutes of physical activity a week
Active – at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week
For further information on strategies and other useful documents see links below:
Selby, D. (2017, August 18). Public Health Matters. Duncan Selbie’s Friday Blog.
Sport-England. (March 2018). Active Lives – Adult Survey (Nov 2016 – Nov 2017). Sport England.
WHO. (n.d.). Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. World Health Organisation.
Appendix 1: Evidence of the relationship between physical activity and specific health outcomes.
|Health Outcome||Nature of Association with physical activity||Effect Size||Evidence strength|
|All-cause mortality||Clear inverse relationship||Approx. 30% risk reduction when comparing the most active with the least active||Strong|
|Cardiorespiratory health||Clear inverse relationship||20-35% lower risk||Strong|
|Metabolic health||Clear inverse relationship with risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome||30-40% lower risk when comparing the moderately active with those who are sedentary||Strong|
|Energy balance||Favourable and consistent effect of aerobic physical activity on weight maintenance||Consistent effect on weight maintenance||Strong|
|No effect on weight loss, except for large volumes of activity||Strong|
|Following weight loss, has a reasonably consistent effect on weight maintenance||Moderate|
|Musculosketal health||Inverse association with risk of hip and vertebrae fracture||Risk reduction of hip fracture 36-68%||Moderate|
|Participation in low impact activity has disease specific benefits in terms of pain, function and wellbeing||Pain relief and function show small to moderate improvements for those with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia||Strong|
|Increases in exercise training enhances muscle mass, strength power and neuromuscular activation||The effects are highly variable and dose-dependent||Strong|
|Functional health||Observation evidence that mid-life and older adults who do regular activity have reduced risk of moderate/severe functional and role limitations||Approximately 30% risk reduction in the prevention or delay of functional or role limitation||Moderate to strong|
|Evidence that regular activity is safe and reduces the risk of falls||Older adults who participate in regular activity have a 30% lower risk of falls||Strong|
|Cancer||Inverse association with the risk of breast and colon cancer||Approximately 30% lower risk of colon cancer and 20% lower risk of breast cancer for adults participating in activity||Strong|
|Mental health||Clear evidence that activity reduces risk of depression and cognitive decline||Approximately 20-30% lower risk for depression and dementia for adults participating in daily activity||Strong|
|Start Active Stay active – CMO report 2011
Source: Adapted from Department of Health and Human Services (2008) Physical Activity Guideline Advisory Committee report, Washington DC. US Department of Health and Human services
Appendix 2: Summary of Public Health England Recommendations for getting people active (Health Matters: getting every adult active every day)
How we can increase population physical activity?
- Active Society
People are more likely to be active if it is seen as ‘normal’ and if their friends, family and peers are also active. Large community-wide campaigns have been effective in increasing physical activity, but only when supported by local community activities.
- Moving professionals
1 in 4 patients would be more active if advised by a GP or nurse and very brief advice on physical activity has been shown to be effective. Therefore, health and social care professionals and volunteers can play a significant role in supporting people through incorporating physical activity within an ‘every contact counts’ approach.
- Active environments
Environment shapes behavior and this has been a major factor in discouraging people from activity. Our homes, workplaces and local environments have been shaped to make it difficult to be physically active.
For most people, the easiest and most acceptable forms of physical activity are those that can be incorporated into everyday life, such as walking or cycling. But our neighbourhoods and towns and studies have largely been designed around the car. Switching more journeys to active travel will improve health, quality of life and the environment, and local economy, while at the same time reducing costs to the public purse.
- Moving at scale
The role for local authorities
Local authorities can encourage local leadership and action to increase physical activity and reduce inactivity through health and wellbeing boards, ensuring that physical activity is included in joint strategic needs assessments and joint health and wellbeing strategies. They should also weave their approach to physical activity across their relevant functions, including sport and leisure, planning, transport, social care and economic development.
The role for NHS commissioners
Clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) can inspire local action by NHS staff by showing leadership on physical activity and emphasising the potential return on investment for individuals and at a population level for being active every day.
The role for healthcare professionals
Healthcare professionals should have a real impact on individuals by delivering high quality brief interventions for physical activity behaviour change, and need to be familiar with local programmes and opportunities, including brief interventions on physical activity.
The role for the sports and leisure sector
UKactive and the Sport and Recreation Alliance have outlined the important role for the sport and leisure sector. The sector can engage inactive adults by the development of physical activity programmes and the development of the marketing and engagement approach and offering targeted sessions for different communities as well as inclusive activities and consider using tools like an equality impact tool to consider whether your offer really is accessible to all.