Skip to content

Healthcare professionals help patients feel benefits of being active

Around 157,000 have been trained, or accessed a training tool, as part of our Moving Healthcare Professionals programme, in partnership with OHID.

29th November 2022

More than 100 leaders from across the health and sport sectors joined us and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) earlier today to celebrate a milestone for our Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme.

The programme works to embed physical activity into the structures, processes and cultures of healthcare at every level, making it easier for healthcare professionals such as GPs and nurses to routinely have conversations with their patients about how sport and activity can help.

An older man performs seated exercises from his arm chair, wearing ankle weights.

And today’s event discussed the evaluation of Phase 2 of the programme, which can be seen further down the page, that looked at progress made across various work strands – with our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth excited with the work done to date, and what’s to come in the future.

“Sport and physical activity has proven health outcomes, from contributing to the prevention of long-term conditions like heart disease and diabetes to supporting healthy bones and muscles and mental health,” he said.

“The partnership between Sport England and OHID has demonstrated perfectly the value of two leaders in the sector joining forces in order to further their shared objectives – in this case, improving people’s health.

“This collaboration can have a transformative impact on the health and happiness of our nation, with more people feeling the benefits of an active life and the sport and physical activity sector playing a stronger role in reducing pressures and supporting NHS England’s ambitions.

“This is just the beginning. We look forward to working across sectors in the future to take this exciting and trailblazing work forward.”

Highlights of the evaluation


  • In Phase 2 (2019-22), the Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme reached nearly a quarter of healthcare professionals, with approximately 157,400 being trained or accessing a training tool.

  • Those trained said the tools have increased their knowledge, skills and confidence to promote physical activity. Some said they're now more routinely discussing physical activity with patients, and those conversations are felt to be higher quality and more effective.​

  • Healthcare professionals provided examples of patients reporting better aerobic fitness, reduced pain, improved mental health/mood, better management of fatigue and greater enjoyment of physical activity.

Physical Activity Clinical Champions

What is it? The peer-to-peer training programme that attracts healthcare professionals who don't regularly promote physical activity to their patients.

  • In Phase 2, a team of Physical Activity Clinical Champions delivered training to 16,640 healthcare professionals.

  • Following the training, 94% of attendees felt very or somewhat confident about raising the subject of physical activity with their patients and 72% said that they had good or advanced knowledge about how to promote physical activity.   

Active Hospitals

What is it? A 'whole hospital' approach to embedding the promotion of physical activity.

  • Promotion of physical activity has been incorporated into 18 care pathways across four NHS Trusts. Across these four Trusts, more than 560 members of staff received formal training about promotion of physical activity to patients. 

  • Evidence suggest conversations are happening more routinely with patients and that these conversations are better quality and more productive. 

  • A Community of Practice with 24 NHS Trusts has been a successful mechanism for sharing learning and connecting trusts. 

Activating NHS Systems

What is it? Our work with NHS Horizons on a whole system approach to the promotion of physical activity.

  • Evidence that the system has changed and that, in places, it's more ready to embed physical activity - 'the tide is turning'​.

  • Some stakeholders observed the programme placing physical activity higher up the agenda of other organisations and observed a broadening of organisations involved in the discussions around the importance of physical activity.  

  • The programme signalled, and facilitated, greater collaboration between the health and physical activity sectors.  

Moving Medicine

What is it? An online resource developed by the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine

  • More than 136,000 users have engaged with the website during phase two. It's very highly recommended; 73% of website users give advocacy ratings as nine or 10 out of 10.

  • 93% of users reported increased confidence, 93% reported increased knowledge, 94% reported increased skills.


What is it? Online training modules delivered by Health Education England

  • The 10 Health Education England e-learning modules have attracted almost 3,600 users during Phase 2. 

  • On average, users score the e-learning modules 4.4 out of 5, where 5 is ‘excellent’. 

Moving Healthcare Professionals was developed after research showed one in four people would be more active if advised to do so by a nurse or GP.

However, nearly three quarters of GPs don’t speak to their patients about the benefits of physical activity because of either a lack of knowledge, skills or confidence – with 80% reporting being unfamiliar with the national physical activity guidelines.

Which is why TV’s Dr Zoe Williams feels the programme is so important.

“I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who is grafting away as a Physical Activity Clinical Champion or if you’re supporting them,” she said.

“Since working on the programme, it’s something that’s always present in my mind and I often find myself in conferences or in rooms, talking about the Clinical Champions.

“It’s something that I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of.

“I personally have witnessed the culture of medicine change in the past eight years that this programme has been running.”

Learn more about the programme.

Moving Healthcare Professionals

Sign up to our newsletter

You can find out exactly how we'll look after your personal data, but rest assured we’ll only use it to make sure you receive our newsletter, to understand how you interact with our newsletter, and to provide administrative information about our newsletter.