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Physical Activity

Physical Activity

Movement for All is a collaborative approach to increasing physical activity in partnership with Sport England, Activity Alliance and Mind.

We are working together to combine our knowledge and share good practice to help increase the physical activity levels of the people we support. Ultimately our goal is for people with long term conditions and disabilities who are not physically active enough to move more as part of their daily routine.

If you’d like to find out more about this programme please get in touch with the Physical Activity and Health Programme Manager, Michelle Roberts

  • The story so far
  • Next steps
  • Our learning

The story so far

There is a well-established and growing evidence base that suggests that physical activity can help us to lead healthier and happier lives. For people with long term physical and mental conditions, being physically active can help manage their conditions and chronic symptoms such as pain and fatigue as well as reduce the risk of secondary conditions. The current UK Chief Medical Officers' Physical Activity Guidelines recommend adults should be physically active for 150 minutes every week but we know that there are many people for whom being active 150 minutes a week is too daunting and aiming to be a bit more active every day is more realistic.

According to a Sport England survey which monitors the physical activity levels in England, 25.7% of the population are 'inactive', in effect going less than 30 minutes of physical activity (such as brisk walking, sport, fitness classes etc.) a week. However, this number increases to 33% of people inactive when they have a disability or long term condition. This figure jumps again to 51% for people with at least three impairments or conditions.

As a group of charities, we recognise that a lack of physical activity is not only a challenge for the people we support but also for society as a whole, having an impact on communities, productivity and putting pressure on our health and care systems. The estimated combined cost of inactivity is £7.4bn, as highlighted in this report from Public Health England.

The barriers that prevent people becoming and staying active are complicated, none more so than for people with physical and mental health conditions and disability. Together with our partners, the Richmond Group of Charities is well placed to explore how to better understand these barriers and help people overcome them. We want people to become more active in a way that suits them. Knowing what we do already, this will also involve us working with a range of other audiences, who all have a part to play in the physical activity support network. We want to improve awareness of the benefits of activity and enlist their help in reducing barriers. Therefore, we'll be working with physical activity providers and facilities; health and social care professionals; and families, friends, carers and other networks like peer support groups and volunteers.

We are seeking to achieve our goals for this programme in two ways:

  • Looking at how collective assets and resources across the charities can be tailored to deliver our shared vision for increasing physical activity
  • Looking at how we can build on our existing insight and test behaviour change approaches to increasing physical activity long term through a collection of partnership projects

Our work together to date has focussed on a few key areas:

  1. Working in conjunction with our Taskforce on Multiple Conditions and Sport England to explore opportunities to create some simple messages which encourage physical activity, are based on what we know works and can be implemented across our information and support services
  2. Promoting support offers and resources which help improve knowledge of physical activity for health and care professionals
  3. Encouraging physical activity, sport and leisure providers and facilities to ensure their offer is as inclusive as possible
  4. Exploring how we can help our volunteers to be more active and in turn encourage others to move more, such as through support group settings

We have been working closely with Sport England  to deliver a series of exciting projects that include undertaking research to help us understand how we can support people with long term conditions to be more active and providing physical activity opportunities and support.

So far £1.3 million of National Lottery funding has been awarded  to Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Breast Cancer Now, British Lung Foundation, Diabetes UK, MS Society, Rethink Mental Illness, and Stroke Association to deliver the projects. And we have more potential projects in the pipeline!

Age UK are currently working with older people who are not physically active at the moment to understand what would help them to change this. The insights gained from the research in 2019 will inform future communications and support.

Alzheimer’s Society have developed a Dementia Friendly Guide that provides knowledge and resources to support the physical activity, sport and leisure sector to become more ‘dementia friendly’ and enable more people living with dementia to become physically active. Please visit their website to download a copy of the guide or their leaflet highlighting key actions.

Breast Cancer Now have gathered insight by speaking to women who have had a breast cancer diagnosis, who are over 55 years old and who are not physically active. They’ve conducted this research in order to understand attitudes towards physical activity and what action we can take to support women with breast cancer to become more active.

British Lung Foundation are currently testing and evaluating a telephone health coaching service to support and empower people living with lung conditions to become and stay active.

Diabetes UK are seeking to understand the evidence related to physical activity and clinical diabetes outcomes (type 1 and type 2) and prevention of Type 2 diabetes. Their report later in 2019 will help us understand the barriers that prevent people with diabetes from being more active.

MS Society are encouraging people with MS to become more physically active and inspire long-term behaviour change by testing motivational telephone coaching and personalised text support.

Rethink Mental Illness are exploring the barriers that prevent people severely affected by mental illness from engaging in physical activity by embedding physical activity into peer-to-peer support groups.

Stroke Association is exploring the role of peer-to-peer support groups in increasing and maintaining levels of physical activity amongst stroke survivors for the improvement of well-being, better self-management and secondary stroke prevention.

Next steps

As of 2019, all of our Sport England partnership projects are underway and while these have been mobilised over the last six months we’ve also been agreeing a programme evaluation framework to allow us to evaluate the impact of working collaboratively and to synthesise the findings and learning from across the different projects.

This work is being led by Traverse (formerly OPM) and has involved agreeing some common demographic information, outcomes and measures across delivery projects and core evaluation questions. Over the coming 12 months we plan to release our first programme evaluation report.

Throughout 2019 we are continuing to work with Sport England and other partners to develop a project looking at how our collective assets and resources can be tailored to maximise our opportunities to encourage physical activity.

Our learning

To help us understand attitudes and behaviours towards physical activity for people with multiple or wide ranging conditions, we commissioned think tank and research agency Britain Thinks to speak to people from across England. To get a different viewpoint they also spoke to carers, families and friends. Through the research they probed the barriers preventing people with long term conditions from being active and tested the impact of some potential messages aimed at encouraging people to move more. Some key insights were:

  1. Even people with limited mobility who took part said they wanted to more physically active
  2. Both exercise and physical activity are seen as "not for people like me" amongst participants with multiple long term conditions who are not physically active enough (the word exercise has negative connotations of pain for many)
  3. The strongest barriers to physical activity are internal and relate to the symptoms experienced by those with long term conditions (e.g. pain, breathlessness). However, the most commonly identified benefits (e.g. preventing conditions from deteriorating) do not address these barriers and consequently messages that claim to improve symptoms do not encourage changes in behaviour.

You can see more of what they found here.

Project partners