NICE steps up physical activity efforts

NICE has launched a public health briefing for local governments on how to promote physical activity, warning that staging the Olympics may not be enough to get people up off their sofas and taking exercise.

The UK health regulator says that, while the Olympics will likely attract people to new sports, more needs to be done to ensure it has a lasting legacy in terms of the health of the nation.

The briefing is based on 10 pieces of guidance, written by experts from NICE's Local Government Reference Group, that offer advice on how to incorporate walking, cycling and other active travel modes into urban planning, as well as green spaces and play areas. Ways to introduce work-based physical activity programmes are also explained.

Such recommendations from NICE to encourage physical activity in daily life were leant support by a paper published this week in The Lancet (click here).

The analysis of 100 reviews of clinical and community-based activity interventions published over the past decade showed that, for example, initiatives including decision prompts and signage to motivate people to use stairs instead of lifts have successfully increased physical activity levels, while transport policies to increase pedestrian and cyclist safety and reduce car use have directly led to "substantial" shifts in active travel.

The paper is part of a special physical activity series in the journal (click here), which highlights a call for global action to address the impact of lack of exercise on chronic disease levels, as reported by MedWire News (click here).

The UK Government's Department of Health (DoH) currently recommends under-fives do at least 3 hours of physical activity a day, children and young people do at least 1 and up to several hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day and that adults and older people should do 2.5 hours moderate to vigorous activity each week.

GPs can follow some practical steps to help their patients take up and maintain more active lifestyles, based on the DoH Let's get moving initiative (click here), as discussed with contributor Dr Richard Weiler (Homerton University Hospital) in a MedWire News broadcast interview (click here).

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