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Health care and wellbeing

How the physical activity sector is putting its stamp on health care and wellbeing

March 9, 2023

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Research into physical activity-based intervention has shown increased support despite scaled-back support for activities businesses and organisations. The hope is that the newly-named Department for Culture, Media and Sport, with its narrowed remit, will allow new Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer to capitalise on the positive impact of exercise-based interventions.

With pools closing and public leisure facilities at risk of closure, interventions provide evidence for the ongoing necessity of supporting the sector. New studies into the impact of physical activity on Long-Covid and musculoskeletal rehabilitation are essential indicators of social and economic value.


Economic benefit of physical activity study

An evaluation of a pilot run in collaboration with Adult Social Care at Essex Country Council, Active Essex and the charity Sport for Confidence was released last month, examining the economic impact of physical activity. The Prevention and Enablement Model (PEM) was designed to reveal how exercise interventions can deliver proven economic value to the economy.

The study integrated physical activity into those with disabilities or long-term health conditions. They focused on care homes, community partnerships, physical activity in occupational therapy and strength and balance training. They found that in economic terms, the social value was £58.72 per £1 invested and has supported over 900 users with 800 visits recorded per month.


Physical activity study of Long-COVID

ukactive has seized on the lack of understanding of the impact of physical activity on the 2 million British people currently suffering from the effects of Long-Covid. Long-Covid is a multi-system condition that for some has been a byproduct of contracting COVID-19. The complexity and wide-ranging nature of the symptoms has informed the study parameters in relation to physical activity.

The study, announced in February, aims to combat the experiences of those whose symptoms are exacerbated by exertion. Named post-exertional symptom exacerbation, or PESE for short, the research aims to recognise the patterns and suggest options and strategies that will allow them to safely employ physical activity as an aid to their recovery.


Expanding rehabilitation hubs

ukactive has expanded its musculoskeletal health hubs from 22 to 100 sites after a successful pilot. The project is designed to inform healthcare policy that would provide a model for connecting the activities sector with community services and the NHS. It forms part of the organisations’ vision for leisure centres and gyms, illustrating the importance of the sector, in reducing NHS spending and improving care in lieu of the energy crisis.

Designed and provided in collaboration between GoodBoost, Orthopaedic Research UK, Escape-pain and Arthritis Action, the programme tackles MSK conditions. MSK is a primary cause of disability among older adults. More than 20 million people in the UK experience problems related to MSK, including arthritis, chronic plan or knee problems.

With NHS figures conveying a total of 70% of their budget going towards preventable conditions, the launch which will expand to a further 85 swimming pools and leisure centres. The expansion has the capacity to support millions of British people in a cost-effective way, providing both on-site and home-based support through an online app.

Physical activity interventions have the capacity to bring economic and social value to the nation. The expansion of MSK pilots for example gives hope to millions of adults who need rehabilitative care, which can be cheaper and more targeted when performed collaboratively with the activities sector.

Utilising the support and best practices offered by the sector can bring wide-ranging impacts, and the research that continues to be performed indicates positive correlations for the future.

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