Solving the problem of global inactivity

Published by  Communications

On 10th Nov 2020

Smart businessman holding bicycle

From increasing physical activity in schools and workplaces to investing in active urban design – a researcher at the University of East Anglia has helped design a series of recommendations to help get people moving worldwide.

More than 1.4 billion adults globally do not achieve minimum recommended levels of physical activity, putting themselves at increased risk of health problems such as obesity, heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.

Not only does inactivity cost the global economy $USD 68 billion annually, but it is also responsible for millions of deaths.

Dr Karen Milton, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, has helped design a new set of recommendations to help people be more physically active – for the International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH), where she is president elect.

She said: “Many people may not realise that physical inactivity poses a similar population health threat as tobacco smoking.

“One in four adults and four in five adolescents worldwide are insufficiently active, accounting for more than five million deaths annually. It costs the global economy billions of dollars.

“But physical inactivity is a complex public health issue with multiple interacting influences –and there is no single solution.

“We wanted to create a guidance to help increase physical activity across settings, in schools, workplaces and healthcare, through inclusive sport and recreation for all, and investment in active transport systems and healthy built environments.

“The benefits of physical activity extend beyond health to wider  environmental benefits including reduced use of fossil fuels, reduced air pollution, and less congested and safer roads,” she added.

The ‘Eight Investments That Work for Physical Activity’ provides a concise roadmap for areas of action which are supported by scientific evidence.

The eight investments cover whole-of-school programmes, active transport, active urban design, healthcare, public education, sport and recreation for all, workplaces and community-wide programmes.

They complement the World Health Organization Global Action Plan for Physical Activity 2018-2030, assisting communities and countries looking to respond to the physical inactivity pandemic. 

Recommending investment and action around the world, the strategy calls on professionals, academics, civil society and decision makers to embed physical activity in national and subnational policies. 

Dr Milton is part of UEA’s Norwich Institute of Healthy Aging - a new research centre investigating how we can live longer, healthier, and more satisfying lives. 

She led the healthcare strand of the guidance, which looks at how doctors, nurses and other allied health professionals can influence our physical activity levels.

She said: “What’s critical about this investment is that we educate our future healthcare workforce on physical activity, not only on the many benefits, but on how to assess a patient’s physical activity level and provide advice on behaviour change.

“There are a range of tools and resources to support health professionals in doing this, but we need to disseminate these resources and skill-up the workforce in order to change practice.

“We have been trying to lead by example here at UEA by embedding physical activity into the medical curriculum as well as the curriculum of other health related courses including nursing, physiotherapy and occupational therapy.

“In order to create change, we need to agree on what works and be clear in our messaging of this. This is what the Eight Investments is designed to do,” she added.

‘ISPAH’s Eight Investments That Work for Physical Activity’ by The International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH), is published online at https://www.ispah.org/resources/

Latest News

  News
28 Nov 2020

How ‘smell training’ could help overcome post-viral smell distortions

If you’ve been experiencing odour distortions after Covid-19, then ‘smell training’ could help you start smelling normally again – according to new research...

Read more >
  News
 Dr Sheng Qi and Dr Laura Lehtovirta-Morley
30 Nov 2020

UEA joins national campaign to boost number of women in science and engineering

Leading female academics welcome University’s membership of a national women in science network.

Read more >
  News
30 Nov 2020

COVID-19: Rapid testing launched to allow UEA students to return home safely for winter break 

Government-led COVID-19 testing for those who don’t have symptoms of the virus has begun at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to allow students to safely...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
26 Nov 2020

Half hour of exercise offsets risks caused by sitting

Half an hour to 40 minutes of daily exercise could offset the dangers of increasingly sedentary lifestyles – according to new World Health Organization...

Read more >
  News
Shop closed due to lockdown
25 Nov 2020

Tier 1 didn’t work and tier reallocation “too slow”, research shows

Tier 1 restrictions in England have had “little impact” on Covid-19 transmission according to new research from the University of East Anglia. Researchers...

Read more >
  News
25 Nov 2020

Domestic abuse frontline staff reveal strain of work in lockdown

In the upheaval of Britain’s first national lockdown, one crucial sector of social care workers were largely overlooked – but new research from the University of...

Read more >
  News
Female footballer heading football
25 Nov 2020

Could female footballers face greater dementia risk?

Female footballers heading the ball could be putting themselves at even greater risk of dementia than male players according to experts at the University of East...

Read more >
  News
Vice-Chancellor Professor David Richardson
24 Nov 2020

UEA leads change in tackling racial harassment in higher education

A UUK advisory group, led by Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson, has published a set of recommendations to tackle racial harassment, with MED cited nationally...

Read more >
  News
24 Nov 2020

The danger of Z-drugs for dementia patients

Strong sleeping pills known as ‘Z-drugs’ are linked with an increased risk of falls, fractures and stroke among people with dementia – according to research from...

Read more >
  News
19 Nov 2020

The lightbulb moment helping to save our environment

UEA’s Estates team has made CO2 savings equivalent to providing 60 homes with electricity for a year, all through the installation of energy-efficient bulbs in...

Read more >