Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death as a contributor to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancers worldwide. It is also related to other leading risk factors for NCDs (e.g. high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high glucose levels) and to the increase in childhood and adult obesity.
No wonder then that physical inactivity should be regarded as a major public health priority in Scotland today.
Scotland was one of the first countries to introduce a national physical strategy in 2003. Let´s Make Scotland More Active provides a broad framework of objectives and priorities for the promotion of physical activity in Scotland. The first Five Year Review of the twenty-year strategy acknowledged the progress made in the first phase of it´s implementation.
There are related policies such as the Obesity Route Map and the accompanying Action Plan which note the contribution of energy expenditure in achieving a healthy weight.
Additionally, the hosting of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the aspiration to achieve a lasting health legacy from this major sporting event serves as an impetus to promote an active Scotland in lead up to the Games and beyond.
However, given that there are many ways in which people can be physically active, we are always mindful of the broader picture across a range of other sectors such as sport, education, transport, environment, enterprise and health.
The objectives of the Physical Activity Programme in NHS Health Scotland are:
- Ensuring that the physical activity workforce has access to networks and the opportunities these bring via events and websites for sharing evidence, knowledge and practice.
- Providing support and guidance to national development projects on planning, reporting, managing, evaluating, and sustaining effective work.
- Working with other organisations across different sectors which have a direct or indirect role to play in promoting physical activity, in order to form partnerships (e.g. Green Exercise Partnership) so that we can coordinate our knowledge and resources with theirs and achieve better results more efficiently.
- Building workforce capacity by providing access to learning and skills development opportunities which are both generic to health behaviour change and specific to the physical activity topic.
- Making sure that the right information and messages get to the right people in the right places through our websites and printed material.
- Building the evidence base for physical activity through research and evaluation.