New guidance on physical activity issued by UK Chief Medical Officers

New guidance on physical activity issued by UK Chief Medical Officers

October 12, 2019

Last month, the UK Chief Medical Officers published updated guidance on the importance of physical activity for supporting overall health. The report, an update from the original guidance issued in 2011, reinforces previous guidelines on building strength, balance and cardiovascular fitness, and now includes additional information on activity during and post-pregnancy, and for disabled adults.

The new guidelines state that adults should aim to be physically active every day, with muscle-strengthening activities undertaken on at least two days a week. Muscle-strengthening activities at this frequency can help delay the natural decline of muscle mass and bone density.

Conscious of the challenges that people may face increasing the amount of physical activity in their day to day lives, the UK Chief Medical Officers stress the scientific evidence that suggests that “any activity is better than none, and more is better still”. Those unable to meet the suggested levels – including those with a disability – should be encouraged to do what they can, as they may still receive health benefits from the lower intensity and lower frequency physical activity to that suggested.

Under 5s, Children and Young People, Adults (including pregnant, postpartum and those with disabilities) and Older Adults are provided with separate physical activity guidelines based on scientific evidence published between 2010 and 2018. The expert panel reviewing these data found that the specified levels of physical activity have the potential to reduce a person’s chances of:

  • Type II diabetes -40%
  • Cardiovascular disease -35%
  • Falls, depression etc. -30%
  • Joint and back pain -25%
  • Cancers (colon and breast) -20%

This report coincided with the launch of Sport England’s campaign We Are Undefeatable which, working with health and social care charities, aims to inspire and support those with long-term conditions to build physical activity into their lives.

Providing advice on the introduction of increased physical activity is a key component of the community engagement aspect of the Healthy Living Pharmacy framework, which will become an essential requirement of the Community Pharmacy Contractual Framework on 1st April 2020.

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