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Leading bodies for health, sport, recreation, fitness and leisure urge party leaders to commit to making UK most active nation in Europe

A coalition of more than 200 bodies, athletes, businesses and charities across health, sport, recreation, and physical activity has written an open letter to party leaders calling on them to use the General Election to #TakeTheLead and commit to making the UK the most active nation in Europe.


Mothers jogging whilst pushing pram

As the main parties announce their manifestos and the men’s Euros comes into focus this week, a survey* of British adults asked where they think the UK ranks in Europe’s league table for physical activity. Three-quarters (75%) guessed it would feature in the top 10, but the reality is the UK is a miserable joint-11th among 15 comparable nations.


The call for change is driven by the Active Partnerships network, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Sport for Development Coalition, ukactive and the Youth Sport Trust, which together represent thousands of organisations, gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, sports governing bodies, and professionals across the UK.


The letter kickstarts a new campaign launched by the organisations on 13th June called #TakeTheLead, which will showcase the importance of creating a more active nation and, crucially, highlight the need for leadership by our national politicians to create the conditions for change.


The 226 signatories to the letter range from major health bodies to sport’s national governing bodies, education providers and the nation’s biggest fitness and leisure groups, while stars such as Rebecca Adlington, Ugo Monye, Adam Olaore and Darcey Bussell have also added their support.


The letter outlines the urgent need as well as the “unique opportunity” for any new Government to unlock the full potential of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector, in a move that would be “transformative for communities across the UK”.


It says: “To overcome our national health crisis and deliver economic growth, we believe you must commit to the ambition of making the UK the most active nation in Europe and work with the industry to deliver this vision.”


Collectively, the sector already saves the NHS £9.5bn every year by preventing illness and in total generates £85bn annually in economic and social value. However, the value generated by the sector could be far greater if the UK reaches and exceeds the activity levels of its European peers, according to research by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.


If the UK became the most active nation in Europe, the research projects:


  • Economic growth – by increasing GDP by £3.6bn every year

  • Reduced burden on the NHS – by cutting spending on preventable disease by £1bn every year

  • An improvement in people’s life satisfaction – by increasing wellbeing benefits to the value of £71bn every year.


The letter highlights priorities for the party leaders to focus on to reduce growing inequalities across the UK and drive significant change in activity levels, such as ensuring every child is active for at least 60 minutes every day, cutting red tape holding back growth, and embedding physical activity pathways into health and care systems.


Sport, recreation, and physical activity bind communities together across all ages, abilities and backgrounds and make the population healthier, happier, more productive and more prosperous.

Making the UK the most active nation would help to reduce pressure off the NHS, boost productivity and economic growth by helping more people to stay in work, improve physical and mental health from childhood, support the drive to net zero, and create more connected, inclusive communities.


Rebecca Adlington OBE said: “It’s time for our political leaders to take the lead and be much bolder in their ambitions for sport and physical activity in the UK.

“It’s going to be a great summer for sport but it’s about more than inspiring the next generation of athletes, it’s about how physical activity can help fix our health crisis and improve so many lives.

“I want us to be top of podium as the most active nation in Europe and that starts with the next Government having a full plan to help us reach millions more people of all ages and backgrounds.”


Sally Kettle, CEO The APF said, "The future health and wellbeing of our nation is dependant on the will and commitment of our next Government to invest in the organisations working to support meaningful engagement in physical activity. Inequality in access has a significant role to play in the increasing health issues faced by many, and we, along with the many organisations who have signed the letter, are working hard to remedy those inequalities, no one can be left behind."


Read the full letter here. 


National Sector Partners Group:


Active Partnerships

The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA)

The Sport for Development Coalition

The Sport and Recreation Alliance

ukactive

The Youth Sport Trust


The signatories:

Abbeycroft Leisure

Access Sport

Action Group PR

Active IQ

Active Luton

Active Pregnancy Foundation

Activity Alliance

Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice

Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre

Airius Alliance Leisure

Angling Trust

Anytime Fitness

Archery GB

Arthritis Action

Asian Sports Foundation

Association for Physical Education

Association of Colleges Sport

Asthma + Lung UK

Baseball Softball UK

Basketball England

BH Live

Bigwave Marketing

Boccia England

Bolton Arena

Bowls Development Alliance

Bowls England

Brio Leisure – Cheshire West & Chester Leisure CIC

British American Football

British Association of Sport Rehabilitators

British Cycling

British Equestrian Federation

British Fencing

British Gliding Association

British Gymnastics

British Horseracing Authority

British Horse Society

British Judo

British Mountaineering Council

British Nordic Walking

British Obstacle Sports

British Orienteering

British Para Table Tennis

British Rowing

British Shooting

British Society of Lifestyle Medicine

British Sub-Aqua Club

British Taekwondo

British Universities & Colleges Sport

British Weightlifting

British Wheelchair Basketball

British Wrestling

Bury Leisure

Business for Health

Canoe Camping Club

Club Kingswood

Coach Core

Code Fitness

CSSC Sports and Leisure

David Lloyd Clubs

DDMix

Dyaco

Edinburgh Leisure

England Touch

England and Wales Cricket Board

EGYM

EMD UK

Endurance GB

England and Wales Cricket Board

England Athletics

England Hockey

England Lacrosse

England Netball

England Squash

English Amateur Dancesport Association

English Indoor Bowling Association

EuropeActive

Everybody Health & Leisure

Everyone Active

Faculty of Sports & Exercise Medicine

Fearless Women

Fit Hire Limited

Fitmedia

Fitness First

Focus Awards

Foundry

Freedom Leisure

FTC Gym

Future Fit Training

GB Boxing

GB Snow Sports

GB Wheelchair Rugby

Gladstone

GLL

GM Active

Goalball UK

Good Boost

Gravesham Community Leisure

Greenhouse Sports

GymBox

Haringey Sports Development Trust

Horsescotland

Hurlingham Polo

Hutchison Technologies Ltd

Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing

InBody UK

Independent Gyms

IndigoFitness Ltd

Intelligent Health

Inverclyde Leisure Trust

Junior Adventure Group

Keep Fit Association

Kew Green Group Limited

Kickboxing GB

Laban Guild International

Lampton Leisure Limited

Language of Dance Trust

Later Life Training

Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)

Leeds City Council – Sport

Leisure Energy

Leisure Labs

Les Mills Fitness UK Limited

Life Fitness

Life Leisure

Lifestyle Fitness

London Sport

Love Recruitment

Matrix

MAVERICKS Life Co

Merrithew

Miha Bodytec GmbH

MindMosaic Group

Movember

Move it or Lose it

Move Technologies

Muslim Sports Foundation

Mytime Active

Myzone

National Association of Teachers of Dancing

National Centre for Sports & Exercise Medicine – Sheffield

National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes

National Orthopaedic Alliance

National Trails

NextGen EHS

Northern Counties Dance Teachers Association

Nuffield Health

Oldham Active

Oldham Community Leisure

On The Mend

Orbit4

Orthopaedic Research UK

Outdoor Industry Association

Paddle UK

Parkour UK

Parkwood Leisure

Pendle Leisure Trust

Places Leisure

Play England

PlayInnovation

Plymouth Active Leisure

Pozzoni Architecture Ltd

Precor Fitness Limited

Proinsight

PureGym

Quartz Sequoia Events Ltd (Elevate)

Quikswitch

Quoox

Right Directions (Management) Ltd

Rounders England

Royal Society for Public Health

Royal Yachting Association

Rugby Football League (RFL)

Rugby Football Union (RFU)

Sandwell Leisure

SCL Education Group

Sense

Shapemaster Global (Innerva)

Skateboard GB

Special Olympics GB

Sport for Confidence

Sport 4 Life UK

Sport in Mind

Swimming Teachers Association (STA)

Strategic Leisure

StreetGames

Surfing England

Swim England

Swimming Teachers Association

Table Tennis England

Technogym UK Ltd

The Adult Cerebral Palsy Movement

The Grounds Management Association

The Gym Group

The Ramblers

The Taskforce for Lung Heath

Thomas Pocklington Trust

Total Fitness

Trafford Leisure

Trail Riders Fellowship

Trilogy Leisure

Versus Arthritis

Volleyball England

Women in Sport

Wythenshawe Forum

Xplor

Zoom Media

3 1 5 Fitness

3D Leisure

4GLOBAL

Rebecca Adlington OBE

Morgan Bolding

Dame Darcey Bussell DBE

Jacob Dawson

Thomas Digby

Charlie Elwes

Dr Dale Esliger

Rory Gibbs

Professor Ben Kelly

Professor Rosie Meek

Dr Hayley Mills

Ugo Monye

Adam Olaore

Professor Greg Whyte OBE

Amy Williams MBE


*The consumer poll was carried out by Savanta in June 2024 and polled 2,732 people.

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