We Are Undefeatable

Inspiring and supporting people with long-term health conditions to build physical activity into their lives

We Are Undefeatable is a national campaign to support the 15 million people who live with one or more long-term health conditions in England.

Launched in August 2019, it aims to help those with conditions such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis and Parkinson’s to build physical activity into their lives.

The campaign is led by a collaboration of 15 leading health and social care charities and benefits from our expertise and insight, along with National Lottery funding.

Why the campaign is needed 

One in four people in England live with a long-term health condition, and individuals in this group are twice as likely to be inactive despite evidence that being active can help manage many conditions and help reduce the impact and severity of some symptoms.

Even small amounts of activity can make a significant difference to overall health and wellbeing.

69% of people with long-term health conditions would like to be more active

Our research shows the majority of people with a long-term health condition want to be active and are aware of the health benefits.

The research showed that:

  • 69% of people living with long-term health conditions would like to be more active.
  • 66% say it would help manage or improve their condition, with improved mood and wellbeing seen as the biggest benefit (52%).
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of people with a long-term health condition feared that physical activity would make their health issues worse and two in five (44%) would like more help and advice on how to be more active.

The survey of more than 1,000 adults also revealed that people with long-standing health concerns feel they face some unique barriers.

  • Over a third of people (36%) cited lack of energy as the main barrier to increasing physical activity; two in five (40%) reported that pain caused by their health condition prevented them from increasing the amount of physical activity they do.
  • Over a quarter (28%) of people with a long-term health condition reported that the unpredictable nature of their condition made it hard to commit to a routine.

About the campaign

We Are Undefeatable has been launched to inspire, reassure and support people to be active by showing people living with a variety of conditions – both visible and invisible – on their own journeys to being active.

One day, a short walk might be all that’s manageable. For others it might be swimming or getting active at home. It all helps.

This includes hearing from people like Simone, 33, who was born with a congenital heart defect that led to a stroke at 19.

She now tries to walk two miles every day after being encouraged by her doctor, and plays ‘Just Dance’ with her partner, which is often challenging, but always fun. Simone has seen a real improvement to her health and wellbeing.

The people who feature in the We Are Undefeatable campaign, and many more people with long-term conditions, were involved in its development from the initial research right through to the design of the campaign films.

The charities behind the campaign are: Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Asthma UK, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, British Lung Foundation, British Red Cross, Diabetes UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Mind, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal Voluntary Service, Stroke Association and Versus Arthritis.

Hear from the official charity partners and their thoughts on the campaign below. 

Age UK

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: “We're delighted at Age UK to be part of the 'We are Undefeatable' campaign and hope it encourages many older people who feel physical activity is beyond them to get moving again. That's the point of this campaign - to explain that however big the health challenges you face may be there's always some kind of exercise for you, and you'll do yourself no end of good as a result.

"Even very modest amounts of activity make a difference to your physical health in later life and, just as importantly, to your state of mind too. For very frail and unwell older people it might simply mean doing some stretching exercises while sitting in a chair - that's fine, we don't expect everyone to run the marathon and it’s not appropriate that they do. Even the smallest amount will help, so why not give it a try?" 

Alzheimer’s Society

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: "There are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and with someone developing the condition every three minutes. Sport and physical activity can play an important part of life for many people with dementia, providing many benefits for both physical and mental health.

"Sadly though, we hear too often from people living with dementia that due to symptoms like memory loss and problems with understanding, more traditional classes can leave people with the condition feeling alienated and unable to keep up. Support to keep active at home and in their local area would ensure that people with dementia maintain that vital link with the community, as well as staying active.

"Physical activity can allow people with dementia to connect with other people by creating a shared experience. The places where we enjoy activities are important because they are often a constant feature throughout our lives and often the heart of the community.”

British Lung Foundation

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive at the British Lung Foundation, said: "Some days, severe breathlessness can make even the smallest activity from washing the dishes to walking up the stairs seem like an impossible challenge. But we know that for those with lung disease being active can greatly improve quality of life and help people better manage their condition. That’s why the British Lung Foundation is so excited to be supporting the We Are Undefeatable campaign, which uses real people’s stories, including those with lung conditions, to inspire small changes that make a big difference. Our free activity support programme, Active Steps, run in partnership with Sport England and the National Lottery, has already seen how with a little help and advice people with lung conditions can find their way of getting active and become truly undefeatable."

British Red Cross

Mike Adamson, chief executive of British Red Cross, said: "An active life is a healthier and happier life and can have a beneficial impact on both our physical and mental health.

"The British Red Cross supports many people who are taking steps to rebuild their lives after personal crises – whether they’re coming out of hospital following an operation or a spell of illness, overcoming loneliness and isolation or responding to challenges that impede their ability to live independently – and we have seen the important part physical activity can play in supporting health and wellbeing.

"For people facing the daily challenges of multiple health conditions, physical activity can help improve strength and stamina as well as build self-confidence. It can also play a valuable role in connecting people with others in the community.”

Diabetes UK

Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK and chair of the Richmond Group of Charities, said: “Getting active and staying active can help the 3.8 million people in the UK living with a diabetes diagnosis manage their condition, and reduce the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes for the 12.3 million at risk. That’s why it’s vital to support everyone to enjoy the benefits of physical activity and provide practical solutions to get people with diabetes, including those who have already developed serious complications, as active as possible. Through this innovative partnership we can help millions of people take up physical activity and lead full and healthy lives.” 

Macmillan Cancer Support

Lynda Thomas, chief executive of Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "We are proud to partner with Sport England as they bring this exciting new campaign to life, which will inspire people with chronic illnesses like cancer to become more active.

"This is about celebrating every victory, no matter how big or small – whether a walk up the stairs, a run round the park or exercises while sitting down.

"For the 625,000 people in the UK facing disability after cancer treatment, We Are Undefeatable is incredibly exciting and empowering, and we are so pleased to be part of it."

Mind

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: "We know that physical activity can play a vital role in the lives of people with mental health problems. Unfortunately, we also know that many people who do want to participate in sport are being held back by their mental health, whether that’s feelings of low self-confidence, exhaustion or fear of crowded spaces.

"We’re proud to partner with Sport England for the ‘We Are Undefeatable’ campaign and believe it will encourage more people with health problems to be more active through taking small everyday steps.

"The findings of our Get Set to Go programme, funded by Sport England and the National Lottery, have already shown us that being more active can improve resilience, build your support networks and be the first step in recovery."

 

MS Society

Nick Moberly, chief executive of the MS Society, said: "It’s a common myth that people with multiple sclerosis (MS) will make their condition worse if they exercise.

"In reality, physical activity can actually help manage symptoms like fatigue, balance problems, or muscle spasms – as well as improve your mood and generally keep you as healthy as possible.

"MS is unpredictable and different for everyone. But whether your symptoms are minimal or severe, it is possible to be active with MS – you just need to find something that works for you. It could be cycling, gardening, or simply stretching.

"This campaign is designed to challenge the misconceptions of life with a chronic condition like MS, and show that exercise can be for everyone."

Parkinson’s UK

Steve Ford, chief executive at Parkinson’s UK, said: "People with Parkinson's frequently tell us that exercise is equally, if not more, important than their medication, but just as experiences of living with any condition is unique, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for people when it comes to keeping active. 

"At Parkinson's UK we are passionate about shattering the misconceptions about what is 'suitable' and 'unsuitable' exercise or physical activity for people living with Parkinson's.

"We offer tailored advice and support for all stages of the condition so that they feel empowered and inspired to take control and manage their symptoms.

"That's why we are excited to be part of this new campaign, working alongside other leading charities to engage everyone affected by a long-term health condition to get active and live well."

Royal Voluntary Service

Catherine Johnstone CBE, chief executive of Royal Voluntary Service said: "Living with a long-term illness can take its toll on the mental and physical health of the individual, their family and friends.

"We know that staying active and connected with your community can help, and volunteering is a great way to do this. Royal Voluntary Service offers a number of flexible volunteering opportunities, many of which can be adapted to suit people of all backgrounds and abilities.

"Whether it’s volunteering in one of our hospital cafes or shops, serving food in a lunch club or providing company to an older person on a hospital ward, our volunteer opportunities encourage people to remain socially integrated which in turn has a positive impact on their overall health and wellbeing.

"Not to mention the sense of purpose and joy that can be derived from volunteering and supporting others, which stays with our volunteers for life."

Versus Arthritis

Liam O’Toole, chief executive of Versus Arthritis, said: "People living with arthritis live with daily pain which impacts their ability to move and stay active.

"We know that physical activity can help to ease these symptoms but when you are in pain and are exhausted from fatigue, it can be the last thing you want to do or feels your body needs.

"That’s why we are proud to participate in the ‘We Are Undefeatable’ campaign, to help, support and encourage people with arthritis to be more active, in a way that suits them."

Find out more

For more information on the campaign, please go to www.weareundefeatable.co.uk

For all media enquiries, please contact therichmondgroup@freuds.com or call 0203 003 6300.