Physical activity - Public Health Dorset

Physical activity

A key risk factor for death and poor health, physical inactivity contributes to one in six deaths in the UK. People who lead physically active lifestyles have reduced risk of many diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke and diabetes, as well as lower levels of obesity and improved mental health. For older adults, physical activity helps to maintain physical and cognitive abilities. Guidelines for physical activity vary by age; young people are recommended to do at least one hour of physical activity every day, while for adults 150 minutes of moderate activity per week is recommended.

Young people who spend more time sedentary (i.e. activity with very low energy expenditure, undertaken primarily sitting or lying down) have greater fat mass, higher BMI and an increased risk of being overweight or obese, irrespective of their levels of physical activity when not sedentary. Therefore it is important to track levels of sedentary behaviour as well as physical activity.

Regular moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) has significant benefits to health: It is associated with increased musculoskeletal and cardiovascular health and has also been linked with psychological benefits, such as reduced anxiety and depression among children and adolescents.

Good physical activity habits established in childhood and adolescence are likely to be carried through into adulthood, while lower levels of activity are associated with obesity, a serious public health issue in Europe and North America.

In England, 65% of adults meet the physical activity guidelines. Locally, the rate of adults meeting physical activity guidelines is better in Dorset (68% physically active). In Poole, 26% of adults physically inactive, which is significantly worse than the England rate. The rate of young people meeting activity guidelines is much lower – in England, 13.9% of young people meet the recommended 1 hour of activity a day, and local rates are similar.

Key statistics

Indicators of physical activity and inactivity for our region have been drawn from physical activity profile (PHE).

* indicates a statistically significant difference from the respective English Average.

Physical inactivity key statistics
Indicator Bournemouth Poole Dorset England
Percentage of physically active adults (aged 19+) 64.3 60.8 67.5* 64.9
Percentage of physically inactive adults (aged 19+) 21.4 26.5* 19.6* 22.3
Children 15+, sedentary time 7+ hours per day, in the last week (%) 65.4* 67.6 61.6* 70.1
Children 15+, physically active for at least one hour per day (%) 15.7 14.8 15 13.9

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