LSE and Nuffield Health Research on Impact of Low Fitness

Introduction

The average person in England does well below the recommended levels of physical activity – with the average person doing only four days of sports and exercise in any month. Adding to this all other types of moderate activity (including work and housework), the average person is still only about halfway to achieving the government goals with respect to physical activity. If we could encourage the average male to do an additional 10 minutes of activity each day and the average woman 12 minutes, they should reach the target of 150 minutes of moderate activity a week and each have significantly better health and finances. Additionally, the NHS stands to save millions of pounds. 

Those that do sports have better mental health and physical health, lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels, are less likely to report having cardiovascular disease or Type 2 diabetes and are more likely to be a healthy weight.

The average household income of those that do moderate sports is more than £6,500 a year higher than inactive households. These people are also more likely to be employed.

Dr Andrew Jones, Managing Director – Corporate Wellbeing, Nuffield Health, says: “Health benefits for active people are priceless, but with increased pressures both in the workplace and at home, as well as the struggling economy, we, as employers have a responsibility to help our workforce to be as resilient, fit and well as possible. Although helping business to develop sustainable practices is important, it is the productivity and success of our people that has the greatest impact. Poor mental health can be very isolating, support is crucial, but wellbeing programmes and prevention can do so much more.

“Our research shows the positive impact of regular physical activity on many health measures, but importantly on mental health. As a GP I see time and again people with good reasons to be more active and a genuine desire to do it, but somehow actually doing more doesn’t quite come to fruition. Once the decision to take part in activity is made our research shows about ten sessions in a month are completed. At Nuffield Health we know that if someone doesn’t have a love of physical activity it can be difficult to do enough, we offer regular free educational events, advice and support to find out what works for them.”

David Mobbs, CEO, Nuffield Health, says: “The health benefits from increased physical activity have long been known, but this research also shows that exercise is a cheap policy option compared with continuing to treat the ill health which results from physical inactivity.

“It doesn’t require expensive structural changes to the public sector or government legislation. We don’t need to nag people into doing activities they hate. We simply need a more exercise friendly environment and for each of us to think differently about how to be more active every day. We are calling on everyone who cares about the health and wealth of the UK population to join us in coming up with ways we can all move 12 minutes more…”

For more information and interviews please contact: Katie Breeze on 020 8329 6457 or email Katie.breeze@nuffieldhealth.com and press office 020 8329 6707