Charities in drive to get people with long-term health conditions more active

Charities have launched a campaign to encourage millions of people with long-term health conditions to get active.

An estimated one in four (15 million) people in England live with one or more long-term health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, arthritis and Parkinson’s.

They are twice as likely to be inactive, according to Sport England, despite evidence that even small amounts of activity can significantly improve overall health and well-being.

Fifteen health and social care charities have come together to launch the We Are Undefeatable campaign, which is also backed by National Lottery funding from Sport England.

It will aim to “inspire, reassure and support” people to be active by highlighting the personal journeys of others with long-term conditions.

Juliet Bouverie (pictured), chief executive of the Stroke Association and lead campaign spokeswoman, said: “Whether you lose your breath from playing with the grandchildren or going for a brisk walk, this campaign is about enjoying being active on the good days and getting through the bad.

“As this survey shows, people want to be more active because it improves their mood and well-being.

“I’m hugely excited about helping more people living with a health condition feel that physical activity is possible, with lots of ideas about the ways that you can keep moving.”

It comes as a survey of more than 1,300 people found that over two-thirds (69%) of those living with long-term health conditions would like to be more active.

The August survey, by DJS Research, found that more than a third (36%) said a lack of energy was the main reason they did not increase their physical activity, while 28% said it was difficult to commit to a routine due to the unpredictable nature of their illness.

Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said: “You’re twice as likely to be inactive if you have a long-term health condition.

“We believe we can change that, because our research shows the majority of people with a condition would like to be more active.

“That might be strengthening activities, walking, going to the gym or playing a sport.

“We are very proud to support our charity partners in delivering this new campaign because we know, with the right support, sport and physical activity has the ability to change the lives of people living with long-term health conditions for the better.

“This campaign forms part of a longer-term drive by Sport England to change cultural and social norms around long-term health conditions and physical activity.

“We will continue to work with everyone from healthcare professionals, coaches, governing bodies, gym operators and even town planners to ensure that people with long-term health conditions feel able and supported to get active or play sport in whatever way suits them.”

The charities behind the campaign include Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Asthma UK, Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, British Lung Foundation, British Red Cross, Diabetes UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, Mind, MS Society, Parkinson’s UK, Rethink Mental Illness, Royal Voluntary Service, Stroke Association and Versus Arthritis.

It will run online, on television and on radio, while support packs will be distributed to every GP surgery and community pharmacy in England so healthcare professionals can promote physical activity to their patients.

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