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Important Notice for Existing and Potential Clients:

As from 4th March 2013, Phil Lomax, Director and Principal Consultant of Green Dimensions is moving to take up a position as Principal Ecologist at Thomson Ecology.

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News and Information

Be Active, Be Healthy. The Governments New Plan for More Active Lifestyles

In February 2009, the Government published Be Active, Be Healthy: A Plan for Getting the Nation Moving. The plan seeks to increase the level of physical activity of all sectors of the population in England. It does so in recognition of the health costs of physical inactivity which are evidenced for example in the current obesity crisis.

“Regular physical activity of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking, can bring about major health benefits as well as significant cost savings for the NHS. Increasing levels of physical activity would contribute to achieving reductions in coronary heart disease and obesity, hypertension, depression and anxiety. Even relatively small increases in physical activity are associated with some protection against chronic disease and improved quality of life.

Physical activity can help all of us to lead healthier and even happier lives, irrespective of age. People who are physically active reduce their risk of developing major chronic diseases – such as coronary heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes– by up to 50%, and the risk of premature death by about 20–30%”.

Currently, only 40% of men and 28% of women in England meet the Chief Medical Officer’s recommendations for physical activity. Furthermore, activity rates fall with age. Estimates for the annual costs to the NHS as a result of physical inactivity are between £1 billion and £1.8 billion. The costs of lost productivity to the wider economy have been estimated at around £5.5 billion from sickness absence and £1 billion from premature death of people of working age. Taken together, these costs total approximately £8.3 billion every year.

There are two main strands to the Government’s plan:

  • Promoting and supporting greater physical activity;
  • Creating a more active environment.

One of the main vehicles the Government is using to promote and support greater levels of activity is the Change4Life campaign - a new society-wide movement launched in January 2009. Its aims are to:

“help every family in England eat well, move more and live longer by changing behaviour. Change4Life will tap into new ideas and opportunities, share best practice and offer additional resources – a special helpline, a website full of healthy eating ideas, tips on how to be more active, a database of local activities, and marketing toolkits for use in local communities”.

While the programme is starting with at-risk families, ultimately it will be broad enough to welcome everyone who wants to get involved.

NICE Guidance published in January 2008 sets out recommendations – based on evidence of effectiveness and cost effectiveness – on how to improve the physical environment in order to encourage and support physical activity. This includes providing active play opportunities for all children; designing and managing public places and open spaces to be safe and welcoming to people and making traffic subservient; creating and managing a network of footpaths and cycleways so that everyone has the opportunity to reach all public services without the need for motorised transport; encouraging more activity in the workplace by e.g. designing buildings to promote walking.

Local authorities are reminded that:

“Planning Policy Guidance Note 17 recognises the importance of well designed and well-implemented planning policies for open space, sport and recreation in order to deliver a range of government objectives, including health and well-being. It requires local planning authorities to assess the opportunities and needs for open space, sport and recreation and to undertake audits of existing provision. This provides a solid basis for establishing an effective strategy for local areas, which safeguards existing facilities and redresses deficiencies through the planning process”.

Click here to access the full document:

Folded Corner:   Can assist you in planning and providing for a more active environment and encouraging and supporting more active lifestyles. Contact us to see how we can assist you.


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