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Nurses 'in ideal position' to stop physical inactivity of 20 million Brits

Nurses have been asked to do their bit to get patients active as a new report reveals more than 20 million Brits are ‘physically inactive’

Nurses have been asked to do their bit to get patients active as a new report reveals more than 20 million Brits are ‘physically inactive’.

The Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour report from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) is the most up-to-date analysis of activity in British adults, released on 3 April. It revealed inactive lifestyles and the repercussions on Brits’ health is costing the NHS £1.2 billion each year.

More than 5 million deaths worldwide are attributed to physical inactivity. In the UK alone, it causes one in ten premature deaths from coronary heart disease, and one in six deaths overall. Evidence shows keeping physically active can reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease by as much as 35% and risk of early death by as much as 30%.

Helen Donovan, professional lead for public health nursing at the Royal College of Nursing, has called on nurses to provide support and advice for patients at risk of being harmed by their behaviour patterns.

She said: ‘Too many people are physically inactive, the evidence is clear that this has an impact on health but also well-being. It is linked to the increasing problems we face with obesity as a society.

‘Nurses midwives and health visitors across the system are in an ideal position to advise and support people to be more physically active. It is essential there is a higher priority placed on prevention to safeguard future generations. This is at risk as a result of the cuts placed on public health services.’

In light of the revelations, the BHF has labelled it ‘one of the most significant national health crises threatening people’s cardiovascular health today’, with women 36% more likely to be considered physically inactive than men.

Statistics show the regions in England where people are most physically inactive, with the North West coming out worst as almost half of the adult population – 2.7million adults– are insufficiently active.

Estimates show that the average man in the UK spends a fifth of their lifetime sitting - the equivalent of 78 days each year. For women this is around 74 days a year.

BHF associate medical director Dr Mike Knapton said: ‘Levels of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour in the UK remain stubbornly high and these two risk factors present a substantial threat to our cardiovascular health and risk of early death.

‘Making physical activity easier and more accessible for all is of paramount importance if we are to reduce the burden of inactivity-related ill health.’