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Sports strategy a ‘step in the right direction’ for tackling inactivity

By Jak Phillips    17 Dec 2015
ukactive executive director said the strategy offers 'promising signs' that physical activity is being elevated up the policy agenda

The government’s new strategy for sport and physical activity in the UK suggests that physical activity “in its broadest sense” is now a key policy issue, according to ukactive executive director Steven Ward, who says more must now be done to ensure the specific issue of physical inactivity is addressed.

Published this morning (17 December), the Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation outlines a see a broad expansion in the remit of Sport England in boosting activity levels. Specific funding will be set aside to tackle physical inactivity and Sport England has a new brief to invest in physical activity for those aged five and over, as opposed to its previous obligation of improving participation among those aged 14+.

The outcomes are a boost to ukactive’s ongoing efforts to have physical activity recognised as a top-tier public health concern which is separate and equal in importance to obesity. It follows the publication earlier this month of ukactive’s Blueprint for an Active Britain, which said physical activity should be embedded into every aspect of society to turn the tide on the inactivity pandemic, which is estimated to cost the economy £20bn per year.

For Ward, the strategy offers “promising signs” that physical activity is being elevated up the policy agenda. He said the removal of the distinction between sport and broader physical activity – described by the strategy as “unhelpful, outdated and irrelevant” – is cause for encouragement, as is Sport England’s new responsibility for investing in wider physical activities including cycling, dancing and walking.

“The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has taken the right approach with developing this strategy and there are clear and promising signs that physical activity in its broadest sense is now the key issue for government,” said Ward.

“We must ensure the focus on inactivity is relentless, and there is still so much more to be done. There is a role for everyone to play and ukactive looks forward to working with DCMS and Sport England in the coming years to get more people, more active, more often.”

Ward also welcomed the appointment of ukactive chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson to lead work exploring how government and sporting bodies can take a new approach to support athletes with qualified instructors and coaches, as well as ensuring they have support once their playing days are over – with opportunities to take up other roles and careers in the future.

To see the full Sporting Future: A New Strategy for an Active Nation report, click here.

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