P2. Physical Activity Guidelines

"We will contribute to the communication and promotion of the Chief Medical Officers revised physical activity guidelines."

The following provides background and supporting information to help organisations understand what this pledge sets out to achieve and how, by becoming a Responsibility Deal partner, you can help deliver this pledge.

What this pledge sets out to achieve, and why it is important

This pledge will increase public awareness of the amount of physical activity needed each week to benefit health and wellbeing.

This pledge asks business, voluntary, community and other organisations to communicate information on the Chief Medical Officers revised physical activity guidelines set out in Start Active, Stay Active: a report on physical activity from the four home countries' Chief Medical Officers to their employees and customers, and within their local communities.

Evidence shows that nearly three-quarters of children and two-thirds of adults do not meet the Chief Medical Officers recommended guidelines for physical activity. Evidence shows that certain population groups, such as people in deprived communities and some black and minority ethnic groups are more at risk of inactivity.

Physical inactivity places a signficant burden on the economy. The costs of lost productivity are estimated to be approximated 5.5 billion a year from sickness absence and 1 billion a year from the premature death of people of working age.

Chief Medical Officers Physical Activity Guidelines

The Chief Medical Officers (CMO) revised guidelines for physical activity, Start Active, Stay Active: a report on physical activity from the four home countries' Chief Medical Officers, were published by the Department of Health in July 2011. The guidelines contain recommendations by age group (early years, children & young people, adults and older adults) and recommendations around minimising long periods of sedentary behaviour.

Physical activity should be encouraged from birth, particularly though floor based play. Under-fives should be physically active for three hours every day, once they are able to walk.

Children and young people (5 - 18 year olds) should be getting at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigourous intensity physical activity every day. This should include activities that strengthen muscle and bone three times a week.

Adults (19 - 64 years old) and older people (65+) should be getting two and half hours of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity each week. Both groups should aim to be physically active every day, and should include muscle-strengthening activity twice a week.

All groups should minimise the amount of time spent being sedentary for long periods.

The recommended levels of activity can be achieved either by doing all the daily activity in one session, or through several shorter bouts of activity of ten minutes or more. This can be everyday physical activity (walking or cycling to work, taking the stairs, carrying home the shopping from the supermarket etc) or structured exercise or sport, or a combination of these. The key objective is to increase levels of physical activity for all population groups.

Benefits to public health

The health benefits of regular physical activity are significant and well evidenced, as are the health risks of long periods of sedentary behaviour. Regular physical activity also helps reduce the risks of developing long-term/chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis and some cancers. People who are physically active reduce their risk of developing stroke and type 2 diabetes by up to 50 per cent and the risk of premature death by up to 30 per cent. For older people, adopting a physically active lifetsyle can significantly enhance mobility and balance, as well as reduce the risk of falling and hip fractures.

The wider benefits include helping people maintain a healthy weight; contributing to better mental health - helping to combat depression and lead to an improved sense of wellbeing; as well as helping to improve social interaction.

Helping inactive people to undertake low or moderate levels of activity will produce the greatest health gains and a much reduced risk of developing long-term/chronic conditions.

Benefit to employers/employees

A healthy, active population is good for business and the economy as a whole. Promoting physical activity as part of a wider health and wellbeing programme for your employees can reduce absenteeism, keep people economically active for longer, and increase your productivity and prosperity.

It sends a clear signal that your organisation takes the health and wellbeing of its employees seriously. Employees are more likely to take more responsibility for their own health and wellbeing if they see a genuine commitment to this at senior management level.

How you can deliver this pledge

Organisations can use their various communication channels to highlight the key messages in the CMOs guidelines to their employees, consumers and local communities. You could also develop your own materials or campaigns targeted at consumers or local communities, supported by on-pack promotions or wider associated marketing activity, for example through your website or other digital media.

The Physical Activity Network has developed a quick guide to the physical activity pledges which we hope will help your organisation decide which of the pledges are most appropriate for you to sign up to. The toolkit also provides examples to demonstrate how the pledges can be effectively delivered.


Change4Life has a range of public-facing materials you can use to communicate the CMOs guideline key messages.

To use the Change4Life materials, you will need to sign up as a Change4Life partner. Further information about Change4Life is available.

Your pledge delivery plan

Shortly after signing up, partners will be asked to provide pledge delivery plans, laying out how they intend to meet each of the pledges they have signed up to. They will have up to 2000 characters to describe their plans for each pledge they are signed up to. All delivery plans will be published on this website.

Reporting progress on your pledge

Partners will be asked to report on their progress by the end of April each year. For some pledges, partners will be asked to report using pre-defined quantitative measures, while for others they will be asked for a narrative update. Further information on the reporting arrangements for each physical activity pledge for the reporting period 2014/2015 is available. All annual updates will be published on this website.

Partners can complete their delivery plans and annual updates online. Please login here.

Annual updates

Annual updates for 2011/12 are available in the following documents.

Partners A to C
Partners D to J
Partners K to R
Partners S to Z

Annual updates for 2012/13 and 2013/14 can be viewed below.
Annual Updates 2012 - 2013
Annual Updates 2013 - 2014

Partners currently committed to this pledge (141):

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