Why is it a priority?
Physical inactivity is a major cause of premature mortality for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Increasing levels of physical activity across the whole population has the potential to improve physical and mental health across the life-course and improve life expectancy. It can promote community cohesion and reduce social isolation. Moreover, physical activity has economic benefits through the reduced burden on health and social care, sickness absence and improved productivity in the workplace.
With 43.6% of adults in Greenwich not meeting national recommendations and nearly 30% inactive, high proportions of the Greenwich population are insufficiently active to benefit their health. Trends in levels of inactivity and activity in Greenwich are moving towards convergence with those for England, London and the deprivation comparator boroughs. However those meeting national recommendations are still below comparator borough averages. (59% v 56.4%)
What could make a difference at a local level?
For the individuals key barriers include: cost, lack of time, poor health, lack of confidence, low priority and other commitments. Motivators include: making friends, having fun, keeping fit and healthy and playing with children/grandchildren. The following groups are more likely to be physically inactive: socioeconomic groups 5-8, those living in areas of deprivation, disabled people, those at risk of or with existing medical conditions, certain Black and minority ethnic groups (e.g. Southern Asian), and older people. Women are less active than men in most age groups. The evidence base suggests the following can make a difference: promoting physical activity for children and young people; creating environments that promote walking, cycling, active play and recreation; promoting physical activity in the workplace; providing brief advice in primary care and encouraging and supporting individuals and communities to be more physically active.
What are the opportunities for improvement in Greenwich?
- Improvements to the built environment that promote walking and cycling including Active Travel (e.g. travelling to and from work/school/shops) and Active Play
- Further development, delivery and promotion of walking and cycling initiatives and Active Play e.g. Play Streets
- Training health and social care professional to promote and signpost to physical activity opportunities
- Joining up health and social care pathways to physical activity opportunities e.g. for those at risk of developing diabetes
- Further opportunities for target groups who are more likely to be inactive e.g. older people, disabled people
- Scale up the promotion and uptake of physical activity through the population intervention Greenwich Get Active
- Promoting and embedding physical activity in a range of settings: workplace, schools, children’s centres