A preventative strategy to target “The Nation’s Hidden Health Threat” (physical inactivity)

News Release – The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK is asking MPs to recognise physical inactivity as one of the largest health threats in the UK. In its Manifesto to Improve Public Health, the FSEM sets out 8 priorities to put physical activity at the core of the UK’s healthcare system via a national preventative strategy.

kids-walkPhysical inactivity is now a major cause of ill health in the UK, equivalent to smoking and alcohol abuse[i], it is also a much larger health threat than obesity[ii] and directly contributes to 1 in 6 deaths.[iii] Currently, physical activity is not a frequently used health intervention in the UK and the FSEM calls upon politicians, policymakers and the next Government to address this.

Dr Roderick Jaques, President of the FSEM comments: “The healthcare agenda has been focused for too long on obesity whilst physical inactivity, a larger health threat, has gone largely unrecognized  Addressing physical inactivity through prescribed exercise provides a fresh approach to the prevention and management of avoidable diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many common musculo-skeletal conditions.

“Exercise medicine can also provide sustainable treatment for excess weight, obesity and mental health and it has an enormous application for workplace wellness and rehabilitation. Our manifesto includes essential priorities for the next Government to put physical activity at the core of healthcare and communities, providing a sustainable solution to public health and the pressures facing the NHS.”

The FSEM supports a recent study by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges[iv] recognising exercise as a “miracle cure”, too often over looked. The report focuses on the less well-known benefits of regular physical activity and the increasing risks of a sedentary lifestyle and asks doctors to take a leading role in the fight against a sedentary lifestyle.

Sport and Exercise Medicine is a relatively new and largely under-capitalised specialty in the NHS, it has a huge application across both primary and secondary care to improve public health. The cost of physical inactivity to the UK is now £20 billion per year[v]; putting physical activity at the heart of our healthcare system would not only save lives, it would save the NHS substantial amounts of money.

See Dr. Khan’s recent and related blog on the best ‘dose’ of physical activity HERE

Follow the FSEM’s campaign on Twitter, @FSEM_UK #HiddenHealthThreat


[i] Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow: Maintaining health and treating illness through regular physical activity January 2015

[iii] Public Health England: Everybody active every day November 2014

[iv] Academy of Medical Royal Colleges: Exercise the miracle cure February 2015

[v] All Party Commission on Physical Activity: Tackling Physical Inactivity a Co-ordinated Approach 2014

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