A report published today, written by the Young Foundation and commissioned by NIKE, Inc., summarizes the current state of physical inactivity in the UK and outlines a four-point plan to start to turn things around. The costs and consequences of having the most inactive generation in history are not sustainable. The research indicates it costs the UK economy £8.2bn per year to sustain inactive Britons.
The insights and recommendations within Move It complement a broader framework for action entitled Designed to Move (www.designedtomove.org), released in New York last week. There is a growing sense that the various actors in this field need to align and unify efforts in order to start to make headway. This is the purpose of both Designed to Move and Move it.
While London 2012 provided a fantastic showcase for elite British sport, fewer and fewer people are engaging in physical activity. According to Move It, only one in 20 adults meet government-recommended levels of 2.5 hours of moderate exercise per week. Likewise, a recent survey found that five- to sixteen-year-olds in Britain spend on average nearly six hours per day in front of screens.
The Young Foundation believes that increased participation in sports and physically active play will improve healthy outlooks, but also reduce crime, improve mental health, increase educational attainment, and result in more cohesive communities. Move It presents four strategies to get started on raising levels of activity and participation in sports in England:
1. Youth-centred sports policy:
Design sports and physical education programs with children’s preferences and needs in mind
2. Coordinated delivery of sport:
Emphasizing partnerships to improve links between school sports and wider community activity
3. Leverage current funding streams and align new ones:
Create opportunities for new funders to more efficiently penetrate the system.
4. Data tracking and accountability:
Understand how much children actually move in sports & physical activity programs.
Move It calls for physical activity policy to elevate the critical nature of grassroots sports in addition to elite and competitive sports. With responsibilities currently split between the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Department of Health and the Department for Education, the report also calls for a cross-departmental strategy which re-prioritises physical activity in schools, and facilitates better delivery and provision at a local level.
In order to tackle the issue of cuts to public spending on sport, Move It recommends maximising existing funding streams and overhauling aspects of the system that today serves as a barrier to additional streams of funding like that from the corporate sector.
The report also calls for greater consistency in the measurement of physical activity levels to create greater accountability to make sport count. The report recommends the Health Survey for England (HSE) includes a regular module measuring how long and how often children are physically active.
Dr. Will Norman, Director of Research at The Young Foundation, said:
“Our enthusiasm for watching sport seems to know no bounds. The problem is that we sit at home watching it, rather than participating ourselves.
“Move It outlines the first steps we feel need to be taken in the UK, in order to curtail and turn around an epidemic of inactivity that is costing a fortune and threatening the health and wellbeing of millions.”
Studies show a significant drop-off in physical activity levels and participation in sports starting at about the age of 10. Brain research indicates that this is the critical moment when preferences and motivations for adult behaviour begin to form. A generation of inactive kids will undoubtedly lead to a generation of inactive adults, creating a deadly cycle.
Lisa MacCallum Carter, Managing Director, Access to Sport, NIKE, Inc., said:
“This set of recommendations could not come at a more important time. London 2012 was a huge success, and the UK has an extraordinary opportunity to accelerate its commitment to ‘Inspire a Generation’.
“The key to success will be ensuring that we work collectively to create early positive experiences in sport and physically actively play and to reintegrate physical activity into life more broadly. We look forward to working with the Young Foundation and many others to move this agenda forward.”
Amongst other initiatives, Nike and the Young Foundation are partnering with the Lilian Baylis Old School’s Project as an example of these recommendations in action. The school-based physical activity programme for 1,200 kids ages seven- to twelve-years-old across nine local schools, will include 12 hours per week of physical activity with a cross-cultural curriculum in school PE, after school clubs, access to community sports sessions, and Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) sessions in schools. Very critically, the approach to this programme delivers multi-sector partnerships to ensure action is taken collectively, and available resources are optimized and sustained.
PhD students from Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospital are working to develop measurement and assessment metrics to better ensure the delivery of real, positive impacts and outcomes on children who participate. The Young Foundation will play an essential role in documenting success factors and learnings to better enable replication.
Notes for Editors:
About the Young Foundation
We are The Young Foundation and we are determined to make positive social change happen. We pioneered the field of social innovation with The Open University, UpRising and Studio Schools. We work closely with individuals, communities and partners building relationships to ensure that our thinking does something, our actions matter and the changes we make together will continue to grow. Find out more at http://www.youngfoundation.org.
About NIKE, Inc.
NIKE, Inc., based near Beaverton, Oregon, is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly-owned NIKE subsidiaries include Cole Haan, which designs, markets and distributes luxury shoes, handbags, accessories and coats; Converse Inc., which designs, markets and distributes athletic footwear, apparel and accessories; Hurley International LLC, which designs, markets and distributes action sports and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories; and Umbro International Limited, which designs, distributes and licenses athletic and casual footwear, apparel and equipment, primarily for global football (soccer). Learn more at http://www.nikeinc.com or @nike.