5. Active Environments


  • Physical inactivity is believed to be responsible for 1 in 6 deaths in the United Kingdom.
  • Not getting enough activity is associated with an increased risk of developing certain types of cancer, dementia, depression, type 2 diabetes, hip fractures and heart disease. Physical activity is associated with having a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing.
  • Health recommendations are that adults are moderately active for 150 minutes per week, children are active for 60 minutes per day and young children are active for 180 minutes per day. In addition, adults should undertake strength building activity 3 times per week.
  • In Essex, only 66% of adults meet the recommended guidance of 150 minutes of moderate intensity per week. Some specific groups in the population are known to be more inactive than others including women, those with disabilities and those that are unemployed.
  • Physical inactivity in the population is increasing with it projected that by 2030 the population will be 35% more inactive than it is today.
  • It is estimated that inactivity costs the UK £7.4 billion per year and if inactivity increases, this cost will rise.

How to encourage and improve active living and physical activity;

  • Provide easy access to formal and informal open space with adequate infrastructure to support sport, physical activity and play.
  • Consider approaches on how to support the integration of communities to come to together in activity and play and increasing active travel
    opportunities to local services and facilities especially walking and cycling.
  • Consider how to apply the evidence and case studies from Public Health England in 2014 ‘Everybody active, everyday’ framework which gives ideas around how to address inequalities, the economic benefit and application of active environments.
  • Ensure that, if and where possible, an ‘infrastructure first’ approach is taken so that people can walk, cycle and play so to support physical activity immediately into their lifestyle after moving into their homes and workplaces.
  • The design and layout of open space is important to increasing physical activity and play. Spaces should be inclusive, accessible and address the various, differing needs of people throughout their life stages supporting the reduction of inequalities.
  • Use England Active Design Principles, which were jointly prepared with Public Health England that advise on how to increase activity through the design process. These have been integrated into the Essex Design Guide with specialist input provided from Sport England.
  • The Sport England Active Design Checklist should be used as an assessment tool as part of a health impact assessment. The details and the checklist for this can be found as a separate document on our web site.

Page updated: 8/10/2019

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