ASA supports All Parliamentary Commission on fighting physical inactivity

9 April 2014

The ASA is supporting a report released by the All Parliamentary Commission aimed at fighting the levels of physical inactivity across the UK which currently cost the UK economy around £20bn.

Tackling Physical Activity – a coordinated approach’ is the first of two reports released by the All Parliamentary Commission.

The report focuses on:

  • A National Plan of action to tackle the declining levels of inactivity.
  • Getting the message out: an innovative communications strategy based on a population wide approach.
  • Designing physical activity back into our everyday lives advocating Active travel, Active workplaces and new developments and infrastructures.
  • Making physical activity a lifelong habit: a whole school approach including Ofsted.
  • Proving success: measurement and evaluation for physical activity interventions.

"Swimming remains the most popular participation sport with almost 10 million people swimming per year." Lara LillThe ASA carried out a study that concluded that moderate regular swimming of around half an hour per week over a year can reduce coronary heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes by around 500 cases in 100,000 people. In turn, this would lead to a saving of around £1.8 million for the UK’s healthcare system alone.

The ASA is committed to increasing physical activity across all age groups through increasing participation in swimming.  We are continuously working in partnership with the industry and with our partners to help us achieve these aims. Currently 81% of leisure operators have a relationship with the ASA.

Our current programmes which are aimed at increasing participation include:

  • The Responsibility Deal Pledge
    The ASA has pledged to work with School Swimathon to give schools the tools to get 10,000 pupils reaching the minimum Key Stage 2 requirement by the time they leave primary school.
  • Active children
    In 2012 the ASA looked into school swimming provision across the UK, which showed a large decline in the number of children able to swim by the time they left primary school.
    In 2013 the ASA went further and performed a School Swimming Census which determined that 51% of children aged 7-11 were unable to swim the mandatory requirement set out in the national curriculum. The ASA also looked at the barriers presented to school swimming provision and highlighted initiatives designed to alleviate the pressure faced by schools and parents.
  • Active Workplace
    The ASA drew up a specialised scheme aimed at boosting general health and wellbeing of workforces all over the UK, allowing employees to fit regular amounts of exercise to their everyday working lives. 81% of employees surveyed by the ASA were interested in taking part in an aquatic ‘active workplace’ offer through their employer.

Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise available to people of all ages, and it is also a life saving skill. Currently, just under 5 million people go swimming once a month and around 3 million swim once a week. While this is one of the largest participation levels in any sport, the ASA hopes to close the gap using the pledged initiatives and get more people swimming more often.

"this is an epic mission and there is no quick, short-term solution. But that does not mean this is not worth doing" Charlotte Leslie MP

If swimmers do up to two hours swimming a month about 70 Quality Adjusted Life years per 100,000 people are likely to be gained. (A QALY is an expression of a year of near perfect health and can occur in one individual).

The report’s authors, supported by Lord Coe and athletes such as Paula Radcliffe, cyclist Mark Cavendish, and Arsenal footballer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, delivered the report to the three main parties at 10 Downing Street yesterday to begin discussions for the urgent need to address the crisis.

Lara Lill, ASA Head of Wellbeing commented:

“Swimming has a key role to play in getting more people active. It has the capacity to unite communities and bring about considerable economic benefits to the healthcare system.

Active children, active people and active workplaces are central to our work with the industry and through collaborative working we believe we can support the All Party Parliamentary Commission in fighting the physical inactivity crisis. Swimming remains the most popular participation sport with almost 10 million people swimming per year”

Dr Julian Huppert MP said:

“Inactivity poses huge problems for our health, and yet far too many of us do very little physical activity, if any. It’s not about being a top sportsperson, it’s about doing something regularly - something we can all manage. We can all walk or cycle more often, find time to go for a swim or a jog, or join a local sports club. It’s not hard and it does matter.”

Read the full ASA Health Strategy 2014

Charlotte Leslie MP said: 

"This report is just the first step in beginning to tackle this toxic tidal-wave of physical inactivity. In our follow-up report, I look forward to really getting to grips with what exactly we can do to help people change their own lives on a day-to-day basis.

Make no mistake, this is an epic mission and there is no quick, short-term solution. But that does not mean this is not worth doing - it is all the more reason to start now."

Follow the link to read the full ASA Health Strategy 2014.

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