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World Health Day: Supporting people with health conditions to be active

New pack, produced in collaboration with the Richmond Group of Charities, is a one stop shop for the sport and physical activity workforce.

7th April 2022

This World Health Day, together with the Richmond Group of Charities, we're calling on the sport and physical activity sector to help more people with long term health conditions to be active, knowing the benefits it can have on their health. 

To support sport and physical activity professionals to do this, we're launching a new resource pack that collates the latest research on the barriers to activity for people with long-term health conditions, highlights key benefits of promoting physical activity to this group and provides examples of practical changes to support improved accessibility and inclusion.

Our long-standing partnership the Richmond Group of Charities is integral to the implementation of our Uniting the Movement strategy, strengthening the relationship between the sport and physical activity and the health system, recognising that collaboration between the two sectors is vital to reduce inequalities and support people with long-term health conditions to be active. 

A We Are Undefeatable campaign image

More than 40% of the adult population live with at least one long-term health condition and we know this group is almost twice as likely to be inactive as those without conditions.

As we emerge from coronavirus (Covid-19) restrictions, which impacted everyone’s ability to get active, we know that 60% of people with long-term conditions still feel safer being active at home and 30% say the pandemic has damaged their confidence to be active.

Which is why Sarah Worbey, our national partnership lead for health and inactivity, feels this resource pack is so vital.

“Our long-running partnership with the Richmond Group of Charities is one of the key ways we are working to increase collaboration between the health and sport and physical activity sector, as both workforces play vital roles in helping support people with long-term health conditions to be active,” said Sarah.

“Together we have launched the We Are Undefeatable campaign, and we encourage the sport and physical activity sector to sign up as a supporter and access our free marketing materials.

“The resource pack we’re launching today pulls together key information from the latest research into barriers, to relevant training and resources, to case studies highlighting how to make changes in practice.” 

The removal of coronavirus restrictions presents an opportunity for the sport and physical activity sector to reinvent and ensure they’re meeting the needs of the least active people, who live with multiple health conditions.

As this reinvention takes place, with 64% of those with long-term conditions saying they want to be more active, there are some changes we know could help reduce the barriers to being active this audience face and unlock activity opportunities for them.

To help the sport and physical activity workforce do this, the resource pack:

  • outlines four ways the sport and physical activity sector can make a difference and help people with long-term health conditions be more active (see below)
  • provides a summary of essential research and insight about physical activity and long-term health conditions, detailing the important role that sport and physical activity providers can play in supporting more people with long-term health conditions to increase their physical activity
  • provides useful statistics and information relevant to our audiences, as well as resources and case studies with more information and inspiration from good practice.

As a result of seeing the packs, we encourage people working in the sport and physical activity sector to make changes within their sphere of practice that enable more people with long-term conditions to be active.

Whether that’s championing physical activity, helping improve inclusivity of opportunities, having more conversations about activity as part of healthcare appointments or becoming more active themselves – everything helps.

  • How the sector can help

    The pack highlights four ways our sector can help people with long-term health conditions get active – these are:

    • Prioritise inclusive physical activity: continue to make tackling inequality a priority by ensuring people living with long-term health conditions are a core audience for your work and integral to your business strategy.
    • Increase engagement and knowledge: commit to engaging people with long term health conditions in the design, delivery and review of services. Use available insight to help understand the barriers and motivators of people living with long-term health conditions. Sign up for free to relevant support such as from the We Are Undefeatable campaign, by joining their Supporter network and see research available on the Richmond Group of Charities website.
    • Enhance inclusivity of messages: review communications and marketing to consider their inclusivity and accessibility, using free resources such as We Are Undefeatable insight, and the Activity Alliance’s Inclusive Communications resource
    • Improve accessibility: Help your partners and networks assess the inclusivity and accessibility of services and facilities and signpost them to support such as the Alzheimer’s Society free Dementia Friendly Guide and Activity Alliance’s Inclusive Activity Training.
    Read less

Included in the pack are links to existing resources such as the We Are Undefeatable Campaign and the recently published #EasierToBeActive guidance.

And Michelle Roberts, physical activity and health programme manager at the Richmond Group of Charities, believes this pack will make a real difference.

“It’s sometimes hard to think about what tangible differences you can make to improve inclusivity and accessibility that could enable a large group of people like those with long-term conditions to get involved in physical activity,” she said.

“Understandably time and cost are often barriers to change but we’d like to work with sport, leisure and physical activity organisations and professionals to help them explore our suggestions.” 

As well as a resource pack for people working in our sector, we’ve produced a similar pack aimed at healthcare professionals because physical activity has been shown to benefit the mental and physical health of people living with a long-term health condition, supporting self-management, increasing reconditioning, and improving quality of life and sleep.

Despite this, it's still not being routinely used as a tool for self-management by people with long-term conditions or being encouraged by professionals as part of person-centred conversations with patients.

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