Time to address inequalities in sports and physical activity participation
Dr Ruth Hunter and Dr Mark Tully (QUB)
The prevalence of physical inactivity is rising and the inexorable slide to more inactive lifestyles offers worrying projections of future prevalence of obesity, morbidity and mortality. National guidelines recommend that adults do at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. However, evidence shows that only 8% of adults in Northern Ireland are aware of the guidelines and over 60% are not doing enough activity. It is imperative these guidelines are followed up by innovative and sustainable action. Increasing the proportion of the population doing physical activity represents a considerable societal challenge. Given the limited resources for health promotion, Northern Ireland needs to tailor approaches to target those most “in need”. This requires an understanding of the characteristics of those who are unaware of the guidelines and those not doing enough activity, in order to effectively develop and target population-level interventions to address inequalities in participation. This presentation draws on research findings suggesting that males with a low level of education, living in deprived areas, and young females and females with poor health may benefit from targeted physical activity promotion interventions. It further recommends moving away from government’s “one size fits all approach” towards tailored interventions in order to halt the physical inactivity “pandemic”.