Working under the umbrella of the Directorate for Population Health Improvement, at Active Scotland we need to look at the bigger picture – addressing the physical, mental, social and economic impact of living in a nation where 10% of young people and 21% of adults are inactive. That means they achieve less than 30 minutes of moderate (e.g. walking) physical activity per week.
At present, it is estimated that inactivity in Scotland causes approximately 2,500 premature deaths per year and costs the NHS £94 million annually. Shockingly, nearly 5% of children in P1 are clinically obese. So, like the Foundation, at Active Scotland we are a small team taking on a huge task – but we are up for the challenge. The incentives are obvious.
If we can encourage people in Scotland to simply sit less and move more, it can make a huge difference. Even being a little more physically active improves your health.
Two separate studies in the British Medical Journal identified that a small increase in levels of moderate physical activity (i.e. from ‘none’ to ‘some’) can improve health. One report stated that “people can greatly reduce their risk of all cause-mortality with relatively minor increments in physical activity”, while the other report recommends “health and functional benefits begin with any increase above the lowest levels of activity. Some activity is better than none.”
So by working with partners across the sectors, we are determined to make a difference by tackling some of the areas of Scottish life where people are least active. That means helping the retired and elderly to find ways of moving more as part of their daily routine; encouraging the Scottish workforce to get on their feet more during the day and walk or cycle to work; and helping those who are met with social and economic barriers to find a way to be active.
After all, it is proven that being physically active reduces the risk of illnesses like diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. Equally it is proven that it improves a person’s emotional wellbeing (active people are 30% less likely to suffer from depression) and even increases workplace productivity.
So... I guess I better get moving if I am to successfully balance two jobs…