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All Party Parliamentary Commission report on physical activity

8th April 2014

The All-Party Parliamentary Commission on physical activity published its report today - Tackling Physical Inactivity - A Coordinated Approach. On the Commission were Tanni Grey-Thompson, and MPs Julian Huppert, Barbara Keeley, and Charlotte Leslie.

In the report, the Commission writes of 'an epidemic of physical inactivity', and says, 'In all human history, we have never been so inactive.' The report states that in England only 61% of adults meet the guidelines for daily physical activity, and only 51% of children meet slightly different guidelines for young people. (Confusingly, the foreword to the report says something different to the main body).  Inactivity leads to 37,000 premature deaths a year, and costs the UK £20bn a year.

The Commission recommends a National Plan of Action, with the support of all the main political parties. 

There's also a section in the report entitled, 'Designing Physical Activity Back in to our Everyday Lives'. It says, 'Walking and cycling are low-cost, accessible forms of activity which can be encouraged by designing our towns, cities and green spaces to be safer and more attractive.' The Commission recommends reallocation of transport investment, providing long-term continuity of dedicated funding for walking and cycling.

On behalf of British Cycling, Chris Boardman welcomed the report. He said, 'It is clear that we need to design physical activity back in to our daily lives. Walking and cycling are obvious solutions: healthy, low-cost, and accessible. We know that people's choices about transport are strongly influenced by their environment. If the roads continue to be designed solely for the car then that is the choice people will make. We now need the government to create environments that encourage sustainable physical activity.

I wrote to four government ministers from key government departments in February about what they are doing to grow cycling - so far I have had only two responses that seem to be simply passing the buck to local authorities or their officials...The government is burying its head in the sand and the longer this continues, the worse the problem will get. 

How many reports do we need before the government does more than simply make positive noises? We need leadership, the setting of some national targets, long term planning and the reallocation of funds to increase cycling. Getting people on bikes is a major solution to this inactivity crisis.'

Meanwhile, Lord Coe wrote about the Commssion report in The Telegraph, and warned that today's children could be the first generation to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents, due to inactivity.


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