Our physical and mental health is our biggest asset. Being physically active can be described as a ‘wonder drug’ - it unlocks so much that’s good for our health and wellbeing.
But despite this and amid a backdrop of health inequalities, not everyone’s currently able to enjoy the benefits of an active life.
The scale of the challenge is significant. Evidence suggests an increase in depression and anxiety amongst 5-15-year-olds; that one in three working age adults now live with a long-term health condition, predicted to rise to 40% by 2030; and despite life expectancy increasing over the last 20 years, people are spending more time in poorer health. The complexity and severity of health needs is also increasing for some groups.
This impacts everything from the quality of our lives to the health of our economy.
The number of working age adults predicted by 2030 to be living with a long-term health condition which needs managing – it’s currently 33%
There are also stark health inequalities among both children and adults. For example, people living in the most deprived parts of the country typically have two or more health conditions a decade earlier in their life than those in the least deprived.
There’s a growing trend for wellbeing and looking after our own health, and a rising interest in people quantifying their health through things like apps.
Changing demographics also present opportunities: ‘Baby Boomers’, for example, are approaching older age and we anticipate they may want to stay active for longer than previous generations.
We know too that there are many organisations working to improve health and wellbeing, from the NHS to those in the voluntary and community sector, local authorities, employers and the commercial health and wellbeing sector.
By using the power of sport and physical activity alongside the work of all these organisations, there’s huge potential to improve existing work and explore new areas to help strengthen people’s health and wellbeing, from childhood right through to older age.
These days you can do almost anything with your phone.
You can order a pizza, check your social media and, thanks to the great work of Active Dorset, you can use it to call a public health-funded telephone service that will help you get and stay active.
The support line is just one of the ways they’ve used investment from our Active Ageing Fund to create a culture where helping people to take part in physical activity has become integrated across the health system and wider public sector.
Encouraging and supporting people to move more, and explaining the benefits of doing so, is integral to our ambition and work like this at a local level builds on and informs what we’re doing nationally.
Active Dorset’s ‘whole-system’ approach means advice and support is available across a range of places and services used by people - such as GP surgeries and healthcare pathways - helping support them and reduce demand on the health and social care system. This builds on the We Are Undefeatable campaign, ensuring messages to the public are amplified from a range of trusted organisations.
This also includes training healthcare professionals – through the Moving Healthcare Professionals Programme – so they feel comfortable and motivated to routinely talk to patients about being active in a way that works for them.
It means, as well as prescribing treatments, GPs and nurses can advocate physical activity, which can play a vital role in helping to prevent and manage many long-term conditions.