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TALKBACK


Kath Hudson • Journalist • Health Club Management EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT . . .


Addressing inactivity T


ukactive has thrown down the gauntlet with its Turning the Tide report, calling for a 1 per cent increase in levels of activity each year for five years. Is this achievable, and what are the next steps?


he situation is looking rather desperate: an estimated 25 per cent of the UK population are currently classed as inactive –


with projections showing that inactivity levels are likely to increase by a further 15 per cent by 2030 – while physical inactivity is already cited by WHO as the fourth leading cause of global mortality. In its new report, Turning the Tide of


Inactivity, ukactive has also identified that inactive people spend 38 per cent more days in hospital than active people and visit the doctor 6 per cent more often. This is costing the UK economy £8.2bn a year (see HCM March 14, p28). In response, ukactive has called on the government to place physical inactivity


as a standalone public health risk, separate from obesity and weight management. It wants public health teams to prioritise and resource physical inactivity programmes to the same level as other top tier public health risks such as smoking and alcohol abuse. ukactive has set the target of increasing


levels of physical activity by 1 per cent a year for five years; as well as improving public health and reducing mortality, this could save the NHS £1.2bn. It’s an excellent idea, but how can it


be done? And how can individual health club operators play their part? A separate piece of research by


Bristol University found poor education, low household income and local area


deprivation to be barriers to activity. So too are the availability of facilities and the weather: although in some cases a smaller number of high quality, well- designed facilities have been effective in driving down inactivity levels, ukactive found that in general, areas with the highest levels of inactivity have one- third fewer leisure facilities than areas with lower levels of inactivity. The industry will have to find a way of


connecting with inactive people, creating a new breed of activity that appeals to this audience. And with inactivity highest among the lower socioeconomic groups, where price is a barrier, these activities need to be cheap – or free. So what are the next steps? We ask the experts...


WHAT’S YOUR CLUB DOING TO APPEAL TO THE INACTIVE POPULATION? EMAIL US: HEALTHCLUB@LEISUREMEDIA.COM


DAVE STALKER ukactive • CEO


physical inactivity as a top tier public health risk, outlining actions that can be taken to combat this severe risk. At a recent cross-party group of parliamentarians, they agreed progress and action needs to be taken; ukactive will be supporting them to do this. Arrangements of a partnership with Public Health England


“A


are being finalised. This will take a localised approach, putting in place a regular, free, regional event programme, pulling together interested parties on a regular basis to share their expertise, experience and plans through established regional networks. These will be run nationwide and designed to support local authorities, public health professionals and the physical activity sector to better understand and engage with inactive people, through the sharing of best practice. Gyms have a vital role to play in promoting the industrial


scale shift that’s needed to get people moving and make children physically literate. They need to look at how they are perceived by stakeholders and local communities and ensure their programmes and businesses demonstrate a genuine motivation to make a difference to their customers’ health.





t a national level, we’re engaging with parliamentarians to embed


DR PAUL BEDFORD Director • Retention Guru


“T


his will be a massive challenge, because changing mass behaviour


of people who are not interested in changing is not easy. But someone needed to step up to try and tackle this, so I think the industry should be positive about it. It does put pressure on clubs, and clear direction will be


needed from ukactive, as the majority of operators I have spoken to have no idea how to implement it. For this to work, operators will need to broaden their remit,


offering a wide range of activities in non-traditional fitness environments, such as walking in parks. Since they probably won’t have the resources to do this, funding will be necessary. Building a relationship with inactive people will be one of


the starting points. In order to do this, the sector will have to collaborate with organisations that already have direct access to inactive people – for example, youth groups, charities for older people and housing associations. It’s quicker and easier to work with those who already have a relationship with the target audience than trying to create a brand new relationship. This was the approach used by the YMCA’s Activate England campaign a few years ago. Using £3.5m from the Big Lottery Fund, this project got 8,500 people active in six weeks.


” 32 Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital May 2014 © Cybertrek 2014


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