Summit elevates physical activity levels to business critical

Kate Kennally Cornwall Council

Increasing levels of physical activity has huge potential to impact on a number of outcomes identified as important by the people of Cornwall.

That was the verdict of 150 representatives from a wide range of public, private and third sector organisations who joined senior leaders in St Austell for this year's Physical Activity Summit.   The Summit brought together key organisations interested in the implementation of the Cornwall Physical Activity Strategy.

Delegates heard how raising levels of physical activity can contribute to physical and mental wellbeing as well as much broader outcomes of happiness and prosperity of individuals, families and communities.

Kate Kennally, CEO of Cornwall Council addressed the summit and underlined the importance of the Physical Activity Strategy and said: "Delivering the ambitions of this strategy and supporting people to be more physical active is critical in meeting the aims that are at the heart of our work on improving the lives of the people of Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. More active lifestyles can help to address many of the priorities highlighted in the recent resident's survey including relieving pressure on our GP and hospital services, improved social connection and sense of community, reduced crime and anti-social behaviour and better economic outcomes."

(L to R) Kate Kennally, Chris Perks, Mike Thomas & Caroline Court

Chris Perks, Executive Director of Local Delivery at Sport England emphasized that inactivity was a national problem and that the challenge was learning to reduce inactivity at population level which was a long term challenge.  He went on to praise the work that is currently happening in Cornwall and stated that he looked forward to supporting it.

The summit provided the backdrop for the launch of an independent study into the economic impact of sport and physical activity in Cornwall and delivering the target of 50,000 more people more active by 2020. The key findings of the report commissioned by Cornwall Sports Partnership with the support of Cornwall Isle of Scilly Local Enterprise Partnership and Sport England suggest that investment in the strategy and achievement of the stated targets has the capacity to make a significant impact on the local economy.

Mike Thomas, Director of Cornwall Sports Partnership who commissioned the report commented: "It is clear that the value of increased activity levels is not only measured in personal happiness and an improved sense of wellbeing but has real economic outcomes in terms of cost savings to services, improved productivity, spending and jobs."

The value of health benefits associated with increasing participation in sport and physical activity are estimated to increase to in excess of £900m with support for an additional 828 jobs and £720m of GVA generated with a further £570m through wider spending.

Caroline Court, Interim Director of Public Health at Cornwall Council said: "Whilst the latest government survey shows that Cornwall is one of the most active counties in England, around one in three of the Cornish adult population are still not meeting government guidelines of 150 minutes moderate intensity activity a week. Furthermore, Cornwall is surprisingly well below the national average for people using outdoors for exercise and health, so there remains much to be done."

To view the Physical Activity Strategy and the Economic Value of Sport for the Cornwall Economy study please visit the Cornwall Sports Partnership website www.cornwallsportspartnership.co.uk