One-in-three adults in the UK currently live with a long-term health condition – and more people are developing physical or mental health conditions, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Sport England, those with long-term illnesses are twice as likely to be among the least physically active groups. Now, new guidance looks to tackle the issue and help get those with long-term conditions to exercise and play sports.
Produced by Sport England in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University and the National Centre for Sport & Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), the new guidance – called ‘Easier to be Active’ – is aimed at those working in any sector that promotes, provides or delivers physical activity to people with long-term health conditions.
The guidance is based on NCSEM research, which shows that supporting people with long-term health conditions into physical activities is critical in improving overall wellbeing and management of their conditions. Utilising this research, NCSEM has created a “Five Is” framework, which the Easier to be Active guidance focuses on.
The 5Is outlined by NCSEM are:
1. Individualised: putting the individual at the heart of everything
2. Integrated: strive to have a seamless, integrated offer between health, sport and physical activity for people with long-term conditions to be more active
3. Influencers: recognise there are a range of people influencing how active a person with a long-term condition may be
4. Inclusive: ensuring opportunities for physical activity are inclusive for people with long-term conditions
5. Informed: everyone is informed of the benefits and opportunities of being more active with a long-term condition.
Based on these, the guidance also offers four key changes – the recognition of the importance of peer-to-peer support, improving access to activities, developing an inclusive workforce and enhancing communications.
Sarah Ruane, Sport England’s executive director for policy and integrity, says: “Easier to be Active guidance highlights the changes the sport, physical activity and health sectors can make together, to create a positive physical activity experience, especially for people living with long-term health conditions.
“This can play a role in improving health and reducing health inequalities, a shared ambition of both Sport England and the health sector.”