Why tackling inactivity matters

We know that many of the leading causes of ill health could be prevented if people were to play more sport and increase their overall levels of physical activity

Around one in two women and a third of all men in England are damaging their health through a lack of physical activity. It is an unsustainable situation, and one that is costing an estimated £7.4bn a year. If current trends continue, the burden of health and social care will destabilise public services, and take a real toll on quality of life for individuals and communities.

We know from the experience of other high-income countries, like Finland, the Netherlands and Germany, that this situation can be changed. The solution is clear: Everybody needs to become active, every day.

Everybody Active, Everyday

Everybody Active, Everyday sets out the case for change, the evidence base for implementation and the options for action.  Four key domains for action at national and local level have been identified:

  • Active society: creating a social movement
  • Moving professionals: activating networks of expertise
  • Active lives: creating the right environments
  • Moving at scale: scaling up interventions that make us active

At Sport England we’re supportive of the approach to get Everybody Active, Everyday and want to explore the contribution that sport can make to decreasing inactivity and helping people to achieve the CMO guidelines of 150 minutes a week.  

Start Active, Stay Active

In July 2011 the Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales launched Start Active, Stay Active, a joint report on physical activity which included guidelines on the levels of physical activity needed to provide population level changes in health.

Sport is a key part of wider physical activity with an important role to play in getting and keeping people active and thereby improving their health and wellbeing. You can learn more about our focused work on health, the investments we make and the partners we work with by clicking here.

Support and resources

Our Partnering Local Government page outlines the range of tools and resources we develop to support local communities to develop and deliver appropriate sporting opportunities.

Whatever our age, there is good scientific evidence that being physically active can help us lead healthier lives. A summary of some of this evidence can be found here.

We commissioned the British Heart Foundation Health Promotion Research Group at Oxford University to examine the primary and secondary care costs attributable to physical inactivity. This builds upon work previously undertaken on behalf of the Department of Health in 2009. 

The overall figure for England was £944million, based on the proportion of the cost of treating five major diseases that can be attributed to people being inactive. The total cost for treating these diseases is much higher; this is the proportion that can be related to physical inactivity

The tables below show a breakdown of the cost of physical inactivity for each of the main disease categories by local authority area. (Please note, since the original release in March 2013, the inactivity data has been updated in April 2013, due to a minor error in the LA level data).