Physical Activity Pilots Launched In London

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Physical Activity

Adults who lead sedentary lifestyles, including some who may be at risk from conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, are being encouraged to get moving for a healthier life by their GPs in a new physical activity pilot launched by the Department of Health in partnership with Natural England and NHS London.

Running initially in eight GP surgeries across five London PCTs (Islington, Wandsworth, Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Haringey) this innovative project will mean that practitioners measure a patients physical activity levels through the use a GP Physical Activity Questionnaire (published by the DH in 2006). They will then support them to change their behaviour giving advice an encouraging them to set activity goals through signposting them to activity.

Thirty minutes of moderate activity, at least five times a week is all it takes to improve and maintain good health but many people are failing well short of this recommended level.

If patients want to get more physically active after their assessment they will be given a 'Let's get moving' pack which includes a personal exercise plan, information on local activities they can join, a map of their nearest park and open spaces and diet and exercise advice. GPs will follow up the patient's progress at three and six months.

Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo said:

"This project will give inactive patients the boost they need to improve their fitness and take that first step towards a healthy, active lifestyle.

"Just making a small increase in activity levels can make a big difference to your overall physical well-being. Physically active people are up to 50 per cent less likely to be at risk of major chronic disease such as coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer, yet almost three quarters of adults do not achieve the recommended weekly amounts of physical activity.

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"The Physical Activity Care Pathway will seek to expand healthy choices by signposting patients to appropriate, community-based activity, whether that be a regular walk in the park, a dance class or stepping back into sport - the opportunities to build physical activity into our daily lives are endless!"

This work represents a partnership approach supported by NHS London, Natural England and Sport England to ensure that a comprehensive view of physical activity opportunities are represented to include a range of self directed and structured activities such as 'green gyms', dance classes and active travel.

Sir Martin Doughty, chair of Natural England said:

"Natural England is working with the NHS and Department of Health to encourage patients to access the natural environment as a way of improving mental and physical health. "Reconnecting people with nature not only benefits the health of our communities, it also helps support our natural world - starting with the wildlife and green space close to home.

"Growing medical evidence shows that access to the natural environment improves health and wellbeing, prevents disease and helps people recover from illness. Through the Care Pathway, Natural England is extending opportunities for physical activity to the outdoors - providing a network of healthy, green routes for patients to enjoy and the chance to explore their local area through volunteering and conservation work."

Dr Simon Tanner, London Regional Director of Public Health, said:

"This pilot is an excellent example of successful collaborative working across national, regional and local organisations. It offers an evidence-based, preventative approach to improving the health through supporting individuals to increase their physical activity levels. Importantly, 'Lets Get Moving' supports both our goals set out in the 2012 Health Legacy Plan and Staying Healthy proposals in the Healthcare for London Framework for Action. NHS London is pleased to be central partner to this work."

Sean Holt, Sport England Regional Director for London said:

"Getting people to do sport on a regular basis is a massive challenge. We are delighted to be teaming up with the Department of Health to help get more people active and enjoying the benefits of sport. In London, Sport England wants to get over 276,000 people doing more sport by 2012. Innovative projects like this will play a key role in helping us reach this target."

This 12 month pilot started on October 1st and is aimed at sedentary adults aged 16-74 who may also have diabetes and cardiovascular problems and will be evaluated by the BHF National Centre for Physical Activity and Health. If the pilot sites prove successful, it is intended that further areas will be recruited within London during the course of the pilot.

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