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Physical activity

A long-term trend away from manual occupations and toward more sedentary lifestyles and increased car ownership, means that people in the UK are around 20% less active now than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, we will be 35% less active by 20301. Increasing physical activity has the potential to improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of individuals, families, communities and the nation as a whole2.

Infographic describing gender differences in physical activity in England - source Public Health England Source:  Public Health England.

Physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality accounting for 6% of deaths globally. People who have a physically active lifestyle have a 20% to 35% lower risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary heart disease and stroke compared to those who have a sedentary lifestyle. Regular physical activity is also associated with a reduced risk of diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and colon and breast cancer and with improved mental health. In older adults physical activity is associated with increased functional capacities. The estimated direct cost of physical inactivity to the NHS across the UK is over £0.9 billion per year.

Department of Heath physical activity guidelines recommend that over a week adults should undertake a total of at least 150 minutes of at least moderate physical activity. Moderate activity can be achieved through brisk walking, cycling, gardening and housework, as well as various sports and exercise. Alternately, an adequate level of activity can be achieved over a week by undertaking 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity such as running, football or swimming. All adults should also aim to improve muscle strength on at least two days a week and minimise sedentary activities.

In 2017/18 approximately two thirds of Herefordshire adults met the recommended level of physical activity of 150+ moderate intensity equivalent minutes per week, a figure similar to that reported for England.  In the same period 23% of Herefordshire adults were physically inactive, with a similar proportion reported across England as whole.

In 2014/15 15.1% of 15 year olds in Herefordshire were reported as partaking in at least one hour of physical activity daily, a figure similar to that for England as a whole. About two in every three (65.1%) of Herefordshire 15 year olds had a mean daily sedentary time in the last week of over 7 hours per day, which is a lower proportion reported for England (70.1%).

1Guidance: Health matters: getting every adult active every day, Public Health England.  

2Guidance: Health matters: getting every adult active every day, Public Health England.