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UKACTIVE UPDATE VANGUARD


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RHETORIC INTO ACTION


New ukactive chair, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, has sent a letter to every MP


ukactive executive director Steven Ward outlines the organisation’s campaign to


get Parliament active


MPs as they were welcomed into the new Parliament in May. “They can just pop their responses into my office.” With that came yet another validation of why Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson was a great choice to be the new chair of ukactive.


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Five minutes or five days The letter, sent from Grey-Thompson, has called on MPs to help turn the tide of physical inactivity and ensure they act to get more people moving in their constituency. Backed up by powerful ‘pledge cards’ carrying supportive quotes from the Prime Minister and the Shadow Secretary of State for Health – and Labour leadership contender – Andy


s part of our campaign to engage more MPs on the growing issue of inactivity in the UK, we sent out letters and pledge cards to all 651


Burnham, we’ve suggested different ways MPs can engage with ukactive, ranging from five minutes to five days of their time. The pledges encourage MPs to meet with


ukactive to fi nd out the inactivity levels in their constituency and how they compare nationally. There’s also an offer by ukactive to host roundtables in MPs’ constituencies, bringing together activity providers, local authorities, brands and public health specialists to develop a physical activity plan that’s localised and effective. MPs have also been offered the


opportunity to sign up to ukactive’s weekly Parliamentary update, which highlights any matters related to activity and health that have been discussed in both the House of Commons and House of Lords; Grey-Thompson has also called for the establishment of a permanent Parliamentary Commission that will explore what legislative action could be taken to reduce inactivity levels over the course of the Parliament. As part of the campaign, with so many


new MPs giving the place a youthful and energetic feel, we’re trying to get in on the act by inviting MPs to join our ‘Move for your Seat’ campaign, which aims to fi nd fun and innovative ways to raise heart rates across Westminster in the run-up to National Fitness Day in September.


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A positive start Getting off on the front foot with the new Parliament is crucial: we’ve set an internal objective to make this the Parliament that turns rhetoric into action on tackling inactivity. We’ve seen great progress over the years, not least the landmark Health Select Committee report in March 2015 in which the then chair of the committee, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, called on medical professionals to harness the “extraordinary benefi ts of exercise in improving physical and mental health”. However, there’s much more to be done to build activity into treatment and preventative health strategies. We also know we need to change the language of the debate to recognise inactivity as a top-tier public health priority. The focus on obesity promoted by both Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS CEO Simon Stevens, while valuable, often overlooks the issue that inactivity itself is a killer, irrespective of weight. Inactivity is a problem that isn’t going to


go away, and the sustainability of the NHS is at risk if we don’t devote resources into evidence-based programmes, research and development to tackle it. MPs have a huge role to play in addressing this, both in their constituencies and in Westminster. ●


July 2015 © Cybertrek 2015


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