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Physical Activity

Volume 408: debated on Thursday 3 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans there are to develop partnerships with sports bodies at (a) national and (b) local level to promote physical activity. [119429]

The Department of Health recognises the important contribution sport and leisure activities can make to a healthy, active lifestyle. Therefore we are already working in partnership with a range of sports bodies at both a national and local level.The Department of Health and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are jointly leading the Sport and Physical Activity Board (SPAB), which will meet for the first time in July 2003. Sports organisations, such as national governing bodies of sport, will be encouraged to contribute to the work of SPAB, whose aim will be to increase participation through a co-ordinated, strategic approach to the planning and delivery of sport and physical activity at a national and regional level.

The Department of Health is hosting a two-year physical activity secondment post from Sport England. The aim of this post is to develop stronger links between sport and health.

Nine Regional Sports Boards (RSBs) established by Sport England provide the mechanism for sport and health to link more effectively. Their membership includes a range of health professionals, including the Regional Director for Public Health.

The Department is working in partnership with Sport England and the Countryside Agency to fund the local exercise action pilots (LEAP) programme. The threeyear programme will test out a range of community approaches to increasing access to and levels of physical activity in nine primary care trust (PCT) led pilots across England. Sports development and leisure services are contributing to the pilots through their local strategic partnerships. Two of the pilots are based in sport action zones and the majority of the PCTs are working closely with sports bodies to deliver health-related outcomes.

In the context of the national service framework for coronary heart disease, PCTs and individual general practitioner practices are working with sport and leisure services to implement local policies for promoting physical activity, for example, through the delivery of exercise referral schemes, free swimming initiatives and weight management programmes.