Adults who are more active live longer

Findings of a new systematic review confirm the important place of physical activity in a healthy lifestyle, and support the physical activity advice for adults in the UK | BMJ | via National Institute for Health Research


People who are more physically active in middle age are less likely to die early, whether they do light or moderate to vigorous activity. The largest reductions in death are seen for those who do around 375 minutes a day of light intensity physical activity, such as walking, cooking or gardening, or 24 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous physical activity.

People who did most exercise were 73% less likely to have died early than those who did the least. Whereas, people who were sedentary for 9.5 hours or more were about twice as likely to die early, while enrolled in the studies.

Researchers reviewed data from eight studies (including 36,383 adults aged over 40) in which people wore activity monitors to record their movements. The average follow-up was 5.8 years.

The study strengthens the evidence in support of the current UK guidelines on physical activity for adults.

Further detail at National Institute for Health Research

Full reference: Ekelund U, Tarp J, Steene-Johannessen J et al. |  Dose-response associations between accelerometry measured physical activity and sedentary time and all cause mortality: systematic review and harmonised meta-analysis |  BMJ | 2019 | 366:l4570.

The economic benefits of a physically active population

The aim of this study was to explore the main economic costs of physical inactivity and to identify the key benefits to improving activity rates | RAND

This report looked at the following questions:

  1. What are the potential global economic benefits associated with getting people to be more physically active and how do the economic effects vary by country?
  2. What is the contribution of premature mortality associated with insufficient physical activity?
  3. What is the contribution of insufficient physical activity associated with workplace productivity?
  4. What level of healthcare expenditure could be saved?
  5. What can public policy and private stakeholders do in order to improve physical activity levels at the population level?


The findings of the study suggest that making people physically more active is associated with economic benefits. The report proposed the following recommendations:

  • Change population behaviours and attitudes to promote the increase of physical activity, supporting and encouraging individuals to shift their beliefs and motivations.
  • Using both community and workplace settings, provide an environment that encourages physical activity and that supports the access to facilities.
  • Encourage the participation in programmes and interventions.
  • Encourage more physical activity across society by interlinking systems-wide programmes and interventions.

Full publication: The economic benefits of a more physically active population
An international analysis | RAND Corporation

Physical activity e-learning course

Health Education England | September 2019| New e-learning programme to champion physical activity for patients launched

A new physical activity e-learning course has been designed by Health Education England, alongside Public Health England and Sport England, to help healthcare professionals to champion physical activity with patients.


This e-learning course prepares GPs, nurses and other healthcare professionals to champion the benefits of physical activity with their patients and, in doing so, help prevent and manage a range of common physical and mental health conditions

The course includes:

  • Motivational Interviewing [‘how to’ video]
  • A guide to “Promoting Physical Activity in Primary Care” 

It also gives a comprehensive guide to the use of physical activity in the clinical management of long-term conditions including: cancer, cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, musculoskeletal health and mental health.

Full details from HEE e-LfH

Boost strength and balance, says new exercise guidance

UK Chief Medical Officers  | September 2019|  UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical
Activity Guidelines 

The Government has published new exercise guidance-UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines- while the guidelines are broadly consistent with previous guidance, they allow for some flexibility in achieving the recommended levels of  physical activity for each group. For the first time the publication includes guidance for pregnant women new mums, and emphasises that activity does not need to be in ten minute bursts.


This report emphasis the importance of regular activity for people of all ages, and for disabled adults.
It also underlines the importance of all age groups participating in a range of different activities.

The new guidelines reinforce the importance of strengthening exercises both for all age groups and highlight the additional benefit of balance and flexibility exercises for
older adults.

The guidelines follow a life course approach with a chapter dedicated to each age group (under-5s, Children and Young people (5-18 years), Adults (19-64 years), and Older Adults (65+ ) (Source: UK Chief Medical Officers).

UK Chief Medical Officers’ press release here 

UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines 

In the news:

OnMedica  Boost strength and balance, says new exercise guidance

Guardian  Even a few minutes’ exercise is good for you, new guidelines state

The Telegraph  No such thing as too little exercise, says Chief Medical Officer, as ten minute minimum is scrapped

BBC News  Strengthen muscles as well as heart to stay fit and healthy, say top doctors

10000 steps a day is a myth, reports JAMA study

Abbasi J. For Mortality, Busting the Myth of 10 000 Steps per Day|  JAMA |2019322(6):492–493. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.10042

JAMA has published the findings of an observational study that followed more than 6 000 women with an average age of 72 years wore accelerometers during their waking hours. Researchers collected data from the devices on step volume and intensity over 4 to 7 days. The women were divided into 4 groups from low to high, based on how much they walked. The researchers then tracked how many women died in each group over an average of 4 years of follow-up.

For many older people, reaching the target of 10 000 steps every day can feel daunting, and this may discourage them from walking more.

Equally, there may be no scientific basis for the widely used number. Its likely origin: the brand name of a Japanese pedometer sold in 1960s called Manpo-kei, or “10 000 steps meter.”


What the study showed:

  • On average the majority of the participants took 4400 daily steps,
  • Women who averaged approximately 4400 daily steps had lower mortality rates than those who took about 2700 steps a day.

  • There were additional declines in mortality among women who hoofed it more—but only up to about 7500 daily steps, beyond which the death rates leveled out.

  • Walking faster or slower didn’t appear to affect mortality rates when the number of steps was factored in.

  • The study’s lead author, I-Min Lee, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, the results likely apply to all individuals who are not very active, including men and younger women.
  • Lee told JAMA:

    “Step more—even a modest number of steps is associated with lower mortality.” And, she added, “all steps count,” not just those taken during exercise. If you already get 10 000 steps or more per day, don’t lower your goal. “There is no harm, and there may be additional benefits for outcomes not studied,” Lee said, like quality of life, physical function, and cognition. “We are continuing to follow the women in our study and hope to report on other outcomes in the future.” I-Min Lee

    (Source: JAMA)

The full article is available to read from JAMA; Athens login required

Alternatively, the Library  is able to provide a copy of this article

Physical Activity and Lifestyle Toolkit

Royal College of General Practitioners | August 2019| Physical Activity and Lifestyle Toolkit

The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) in partnership with Sport England have designed a toolkit to be used by primary care professionals in the UK. Any health professional concerned about their own activity levels may find the toolkit useful.
Image source:

The toolkit is available to read online


RCGP Active Practice Charter

School Sport and Activity Action Plan

Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Department for Education, Department of Health and Social Care Mims Davies MP, The Rt Hon Damian Hinds MP, and Seema Kennedy MP| July 2019| New plan to help children get active 

The Government have announced their School Sport and Activity Action Plan to provide children with more opportunities to access and participate in 60 minutes of daily sport and physical activity, whether that be in school, after school or during weekends and holidays. 


As part of the Plan schools will be urged to recognise how physical literacy and high-quality, modern PE lessons can benefit other aspects of school life and improve pupils’ behaviour, wellbeing and attainment. They will also be encouraged to use sports leaders and mentoring schemes to ensure pupils have a say in developing their schools’ sports offer. Schools will be encouraged to offer a range of activities that appeal to young people from different backgrounds, including girls and less active groups.

More detail on the actions in the plan will be published later this year (Source: Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport et al.).

Read the press release in full  Children to have greater opportunity to access 60 minutes of physical activity every day

See also:

Sport England New plan to help children get active