World Health Day – the importance of physical activity

Tuesday 6th April 2021

We’re passionate about physical activity. That’s not really a surprise; we’re fairly overt about it. But you might not know why we care so much.

As today is World Health Day, we wanted to explain why it matters so much.


What actually is physical activity?

Physical activity isn’t just sports. It’s not just running, or swimming, or gymming. It’s not even just Zumba. Physical activity is all about moving more, more often, with more intensity, in more ways. And the ‘more’ is relative. It doesn’t mean going from walking the dog to running an ultra marathon. It could be changing your route so that you walk for ten minutes longer, or walking a bit faster to get your heart rate up a little. Those small tweaks we can make to our daily routines can make a big difference.

And this is why.

The Chief Medical Officer recommends that adults should do 2 and a half hours of physical activity per week of a moderate intensity. Children over 5 should be doing an hour per day.  But many of us don’t reach these targets. According to the latest Active Lives data from Sport England, 475,200 people in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire fall below this level. 26.6% of all residents are active for less than 30 minutes per week.

And this has a big impact on health.

Low levels of physical activity can contribute to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and increase the risk of some cancers. It may even have a negative effect on cognitive function or your mental health.


Being more physically active can:

  • reduce your risk of a heart attack
  • help manage your weight
  • help lower blood cholesterol level
  • lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some cancers
  • help lower blood pressure
  • give you stronger bones, muscles and joints and a lower risk of developing osteoporosis
  • lower your risk of falls
  • help you recover better from periods of hospitalisation or bed rest
  • make you feel better – with more energy, a better mood, feel more relaxed and sleep better.


Barriers to activity

However, we understand that being more physically active isn’t always as easy as it sounds. There are many barriers people may face, including a lack of time, lack of finances, not having the right support, not having the right kit or equipment, caring responsibilities, work commitments, not having the motivation or energy, or even not feeling welcome or accepted at group activities. Everyone will have their own reasons.

Our role is to try and help the people of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent overcome them and make physical activity as accessible as possible for everyone.


Together Active CEO, Jude Taylor, comments:

“We see the impact of low levels of physical activity every day. The volume of cars on our roads. The pressures in our healthcare system. Even in our own bodies. But it needn’t be this way.

“We are committed to supporting the people of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent be more physically active, in whichever way they choose to be. We are working to break down the barriers to physical activity, including sharing out £170,000  between 46 different organisations across the county, through Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund.

“We have also developed our own activity finder, Active My Way, to help people find out what is available in their local area easily, with up-to-date, relevant information and easy online booking. Through the pandemic, we were also able to add hundreds of activity videos, including many for people with health conditions, so that people could exercise in their own homes.

“We want everyone to have happy and healthy lives. Being physically active is a key factor in achieving that.”


Find out more: Active My Way