Recap: ukactive National Summit 2019

The Harlands team attended the 2019 ukactive National Summit in London on Thursday 31st October. The summit was focused on how physical activity, and the sector that delivers it, is the backbone of modern Britain.

It was an informative day focused on how physical activity impacts and is impacted by how we live, where we live and how we work. Here is our summary of the key takeaways from the day.

More Adults Physically Active

The number of adults in the UK classed as physically active, doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week) has increased to 28.6 million. 1 million more UK adults are now physically active than in 2015.

Those classed as inactive, doing less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity, has fallen. The number is down to 11.2 million, a decrease of 131,700 on 2015. This is the lowest figure recorded since Sporting England’s Active Lives survey was first published.

This growth can be attributed to the focus of the health and fitness industry on improving the wellbeing of the country. Raising awareness of the importance of staying active through education, workplace programmes and advertising initiatives.

Going forward there’s a focus on ensuring the message that role that physical activity can play in preventing illness amongst the population, as well as in the government.

Incorporating Physical Activity Into Everyday Life

There was a focus on presenting achievable ways to increase physical activity levels. From choosing to take the stairs rather than the lift, commuting by public transport to add in more steps to your day.

Use of apps to ensure personal physical activity targets are met and to track performance are being encouraged – merging the digital and physical to drive participation. This counteracts the threat that the rise in online gaming, streaming services and social media have had on activity levels.

Incentivising Activity & Healthy Choices

The viability of offering incentives for activity was explored in a panel discussion. Building a successful incentive programme is challenging.

Three key factors were highlighted as important to creating a sustainable incentive programme – environmental, social and individual:

  • Environmental factors – individuals need to have tangible, realistic, examples of how activity can be incorporated into everyday life.
  • Social factors – individuals need to feel like they belong to a community by participating, they are a part of something. Being active also needs to be perceived as a normal accepted behaviour in all communities for incentivisation to work. There are sections of society where being physically active is not viewed in this way.
  • Individual factors – everyone is different and what motivates one individual might not motivate another. Further still, over time if incentives are not varied, engagement may fall. A mix of personalised and varied incentives for meeting both long- and short-term activity goals is vital for a sustainable incentive programme.

Businesses like ActivPoints can help health and fitness operators motivate members for activity on and off site.

Supporting Urban Renewal

With growth in online shopping and economic challenges, UK high streets and shopping centres have been hit with empty properties and are often becoming increasingly rundown. Urban renewal is required with spaces repurposed away from retail use.

Currently many spaces are being filled with the likes of coffee shops, fast food outlets, nail salons and other similar businesses that are not necessarily of benefit to the wider community.

There is a significant opportunity for the health and fitness industry to support urban renewal by repurposing spaces for gyms and other physical activity facilities. These spaces could be of benefit to the whole community and bring in visitors to the high street, boosting the economy.

However, building regulations that do not allow for spaces to be repurposed for this type of use are hampering the ability of health and fitness operators to open new sites in high street locations. This challenge needs to be addressed appropriately.

Challenging Youth Violence Through Physical Activity

Youth violence is rising at an alarming rate, the topic of how sport and physical activity can elevate youth from their circumstances to curb violence and crimes was discussed. The increase in youth violence across the UK has been driven by a host of factors, from austerity and lack of community cohesion, to growing social isolation and anonymity amongst younger people.

School exclusions have risen by around 40%, with over 60% of the prison population having been excluded from school there’s a clear need to engage those excluded to break this cycle. Team sports can bring these young people together to create a feeling of community, as well as teaching a wide range of life skills. Charities are working with schools to ensure young people who have been, or are at risk of being, excluded from schools can participate in sports programmes.

With the right investment, set up and support, sports programmes can play an important role in engaging and educating young people to curb the risk of those at of becoming involved in violence.

These were just some of the topics discussed at the ukactive National Summit – thank you to the team at ukactive for an insightful day!