We all know how important it is to move around each day, but did you know that an inactive lifestyle kills as many as 36,815 people a year.
Lack of physical activity causes these premature deaths each year in the UK, according to statistics released today by the South West Public Health Observatory (SWPHO) and charity Sustrans.
The statistics have been produced to help local authorities estimate how much they could reduce death and illness by promoting physical activity.
They show that current levels of physical activity among people aged 40-79 are low across England and that major health gains could be made if they increased.
Professor Julia Verne, Director of the South West Public Health Observatory said:
“While we realise there are some people who cannot engage fully in physical activity, the tool is useful in highlighting the scale of the impact of physical activity on health. Small increases in activity, even for those who can’t be fully active would still deliver big health benefits.
“Local authorities can use the tool to raise awareness about the importance of physical activity and to think of ways to get people active in their area.
“There are many ways to do this. While improving sporting facilities is important, the key for most people is to build physical activity into their daily lives, rather than thinking of it as something extra to fit in to already hectic lifestyles. One way to do this is to leave cars at home, walk and cycle more often to school, work and for leisure.”
It has been estimated that if 100% of the population, aged between 40-79, did recommended levels of physical activity, each year there would be:
- 12,061 fewer emergency hospital admissions for coronary heart disease
- 6,735 fewer cases of breast cancer
- 4,719 fewer cases of colorectal cancer
- 294,730 fewer people living with diabetes
The Government currently recommends that adults undertake two and a half hours of moderate activity per week.
Sustrans Chief Executive Malcolm Shepherd said:
”Until now inactivity has been a hidden killer, with few people realising how dangerous an inactive lifestyle can be.
“Health experts agree that walking and cycling are the easiest ways for people to get the exercise they need, but too many people don’t feel safe.
“We can no longer ignore the problem – local authorities must take immediate action to improve the health of their communities by making walking and cycling the safest, easiest and most enjoyable ways to travel.”