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Exercise

Volume 458: debated on Thursday 22 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much her Department spent on promoting physical activity to (a) children, (b) pensioners and (c) adults in each of the last five years; (129122)

(2) how much public money the Government spent on the encouragement of physical activity among the general population for public health purposes in each of the last five years; and how much is planned to be spent over the next five years.

The Department and the national health service promote the benefits of physical activity in many ways to professionals, the public and other stakeholders.

In particular, primary care trusts are required to have systematic and managed health promotion programmes, including action on exercise, that are responsive to local needs. Spending on the promotion of sport and physical recreation by the NHS is not recorded centrally.

Alongside spending by the NHS to support local delivery of physical activity programmes for adults and children, the Department has funded pilot work to inform interventions. This has included:

the local exercise action pilot scheme (LEAP), which has been jointly funded by the Department, Sport England and the Countryside Agency with an overall cost of £2.5 million between 2003 and 2006. The LEAP pilots included interventions targeted towards children, adults and older people;

a joint Department, Department for Education and Skills, and Youth Sport Trust pilot programme Schools on the Move, which includes resource materials for schools, teachers and young people to help integrate pedometers into the life of the school. The Department has invested £100,000 in the pilot during 2005 and 2006; and

a contribution of £27,000 by the Department in 2003 to a pilot initiative which distributed 10,000 Step-O-Meters to general practitioner practices in areas of high deprivation and high rates of coronary heart disease. Other funding partners were the Countryside Agency and the British Heart Foundation.

National programmes to promote physical activity arising out of this pilot work include:

the National Step-O-Meter Programme, led jointly by the Department of Health and Natural England, is training health professionals across the country in motivational interviewing and the use of pedometers as a motivational tool, and providing free pedometers for loan to their patients. The Department has invested £650,000 in this programme since 2005; and

a £494,000 school pedometer programme, distributing 40,000 pedometers to 250 schools in deprived areas to encourage children to become more active, and enabling all schools to access resources to support increased physical activity.

The Secretary of State for Health, through the section 64 general scheme of grants (s64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968), has power to make grants to voluntary organisations in England whose activities support the Department’s policy priorities.

The Department has provided funding to physical activity based programmes under the section 64 scheme to the following organisations:

Sustrans;

Amateur Swimming Association;

English Federation of Disability Sport;

National Heart Forum; and

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

For the coming year, the Department intends to spend £1.6 million on increasing physical activity. Spending allocations for the years after 2007-08 have yet to be finalised.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the inter-ministerial group on physical activity last met; and what (a) activity it has undertaken and (b) progress it has made. (129133)

The inter-ministerial group on physical activity, chaired by Caroline Flint, last met on 5 February 2007. Caroline Flint has also held bilaterals with participating Ministers.

The group has collated information on what each Department has achieved, and reviewed the gaps and obstacles to local delivery.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government are taking to encourage and facilitate higher levels of physical activity by people in everyday life. (129134)

“Choosing Activity: a physical activity action plan”, published on 9 March 2005, sets out 99 actions across Government to promote physical activity among children, in the community, in workplaces, and in the NHS.

Government implementation of Choosing Activity includes:

In December 2006, the Department, Sport England and Natural England published recommendations to support the local commissioning of physical activity interventions. These were based on the findings of the local exercise action pilots (LEAP), which demonstrated that physical activity interventions are cost-effective and can save the NHS money in the long-term by reducing ill-health. LEAP has also shown that it is possible to engage a broad range of people, and to increase physical activity levels.

The National Step-0-Meter Programme, a joint programme across the Department and Natural England, is training health professionals across the country in motivational interviewing and the use of pedometers as a motivational tool, and providing free pedometers for loan to their patients. To date 4,000 primary care health professionals, across 220 PCTs (pre-reconfiguration) have been trained in motivational behaviour change.

To support the above programmes, the Department has developed a simple tool, the general practice physical activity questionnaire (GPPAQ) for routine use in general practice to help health professionals decide when advice and interventions to increase physical activity might be appropriate to offer a patient.

A school pedometer programme, distributing 40,000 pedometers to 250 schools in deprived areas to encourage children to become more active, and enabling all schools to access resources to support increased physical activity.

It is a requirement since 2005 for all schools participating in the National Healthy Schools programme to meet criteria for physical activity.

The Department for Transport are rolling out the new national standard for cycle training, Bikeability, from spring 2007, with the aim that by 2009 half of all year six pupils in England will be trained through schemes awarding the new standard.