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14 Jun 2024 | 10:10

A coalition of more than 200 bodies, athletes, businesses and charities across health, sport,
recreation, and physical activity has written an open letter to party leaders calling on them to use
the General Election to #TakeTheLead and commit to making the UK the most active nation in

As the main parties announce their manifestos and the men’s Euros comes into focus this week, a
survey* of British adults asked where they think the UK ranks in Europe’s league table for physical
activity. Three-quarters (75%) guessed it would feature in the top 10, but the reality is the UK is a
miserable joint-11th among 15 comparable nations.

The call for change is driven by the Active Partnerships network, the Chartered Institute for the
Management of Sport and Physical Activity, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Sport for
Development Coalition, ukactive and the Youth Sport Trust, which together represent thousands of
organisations, gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, sports governing bodies, and professionals
across the UK.

The letter kickstarts a new campaign launched by the organisations today (13 June) called
#TakeTheLead, which will showcase the importance of creating a more active nation and, crucially,
highlight the need for leadership by our national politicians to create the conditions for change.
The 226 signatories to the letter range from major health bodies to sport’s national governing
bodies, education providers and the nation’s biggest fitness and leisure groups, while stars such as
Rebecca Adlington, Ugo Monye, Adam Olaore and Darcey Bussell have also added their support.
The letter outlines the urgent need as well as the “unique opportunity” for any new Government to
unlock the full potential of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector, in a move that would
be “transformative for communities across the UK”.

It says: “To overcome our national health crisis and deliver economic growth, we believe you must
commit to the ambition of making the UK the most active nation in Europe and work with the
industry to deliver this vision.”

Collectively, the sector already saves the NHS £9.5bn every year by preventing illness and in total
generates £85bn annually in economic and social value. However, the value generated by the
sector could be far greater if the UK reaches and exceeds the activity levels of its European peers,

according to research by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
If the UK became the most active nation in Europe, the research projects:
• Economic growth – by increasing GDP by £3.6bn every year
• Reduced burden on the NHS – by cutting spending on preventable disease by £1bn every year
• An improvement in people’s life satisfaction – by increasing wellbeing benefits to the value
of £71bn every year.

The letter highlights priorities for the party leaders to focus on to reduce growing inequalities
across the UK and drive significant change in activity levels, such as ensuring every child is active
for at least 60 minutes every day, cutting red tape holding back growth, and embedding physical
activity pathways into health and care systems.

Sport, recreation, and physical activity bind communities together across all ages, abilities and
backgrounds and make the population healthier, happier, more productive and more prosperous.
Making the UK the most active nation would help to reduce pressure off the NHS, boost productivity
and economic growth by helping more people to stay in work, improve physical and mental health
from childhood, support the drive to net zero, and create more connected, inclusive communities.

Hitesh Patel, Executive Director of the Sport for Development Coalition, said: “The evidence is
clear – multiple returns on investment can be achieved if we fully realise the wide-ranging benefits
of sport and physical activity. As we enter another packed summer of sport and ahead of the
General Election, the #TakeTheLead campaign is a timely opportunity to remind our politicians
that, by committing to making the UK the most active nation in Europe, they will be committing to
tacking health and societal inequalities in the UK’s most disadvantaged communities. This is
reflected in the Sport for Development Coalition’s #OpenGoal framework and being delivered
everyday through over 400 organisations in our network.”

Ali Oliver MBE, CEO of Youth Sport Trust: “The upcoming General Election and the exciting summer
of sport ahead gives the opportunity for all parties to set out how they would create a more active
country. Currently fewer than half of children are meeting the Chief Medical Officers’
recommended guideline of 60 minutes of physical activity a day, so it is imperative children and
young people sit at the heart of this ambition to make UK the most active nation in Europe.

“Increasing physical activity will not only lead to happier and healthier children and young people,
but will help us get upstream of challenges in education including absence, attendance and
behaviour and in time reduce the burden on the NHS. I am proud to stand with other leaders from
across the physical activity sector, united in our desire to work with whoever forms the next
government to achieve this compelling ambition.”

The signatories:
Abbeycroft Leisure
Access Sport
Action Group PR
Active IQ
Active Luton
Active Pregnancy Foundation
Activity Alliance
Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice
Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre
Alliance Leisure
Angling Trust
Anytime Fitness
Archery GB
Arthritis Action
Asian Sports Foundation
Association for Physical Education
Association of Colleges Sport
Asthma + Lung UK
Basketball England
BH Live
Bigwave Marketing
Boccia England
Bolton Arena
Bowls Development Alliance
Bowls England
Brio Leisure - Cheshire West & Chester Leisure CIC
British American Football
British Association of Sport Rehabilitators
British Cycling

British Equestrian Federation
British Fencing
British Gliding Association
British Gymnastics
British Horseracing Authority
British Horse Society
British Judo
British Mountaineering Council
British Nordic Walking
British Obstacle Sports
British Orienteering
British Para Table Tennis
British Rowing
British Shooting
British Society of Lifestyle Medicine
British Sub-Aqua Club
British Taekwondo
British Universities & Colleges Sport
British Weightlifting
British Wheelchair Basketball
British Wrestling
Bury Leisure
Business for Health
Canoe Camping Club
Club Kingswood
Coach Core
Code Fitness
CSSC Sports and Leisure
David Lloyd Clubs
Edinburgh Leisure
England Touch
England and Wales Cricket Board
Endurance GB
England and Wales Cricket Board
England Athletics

England Hockey
England Lacrosse
England Netball
England Squash
English Amateur Dancesport Association
English Indoor Bowling Association
Everybody Health & Leisure
Everyone Active
Faculty of Sports & Exercise Medicine
Fearless Women
Fit Hire Limited
Fitness First
Focus Awards
Freedom Leisure
Future Fit Training
GB Boxing
GB Snow Sports
GB Wheelchair Rugby
GM Active
Goalball UK
Good Boost
Gravesham Community Leisure
Greenhouse Sports
Haringey Sports Development Trust
Hurlingham Polo
Hutchison Technologies Ltd
Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing
InBody UK
Independent Gyms
IndigoFitness Ltd
Intelligent Health

Inverclyde Leisure Trust
Junior Adventure Group
Keep Fit Association
Kew Green Group Limited
Kickboxing GB
Laban Guild International
Lampton Leisure Limited
Language of Dance Trust
Later Life Training
Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)
Leeds City Council - Sport
Leisure Energy
Leisure Labs
Les Mills Fitness UK Limited
Life Fitness
Life Leisure
Lifestyle Fitness
London Sport
Love Recruitment
Miha Bodytec GmbH
Mosaic Group
Move it or Lose it
Move Technologies
Muslim Sports Foundation
Mytime Active
National Association of Teachers of Dancing
National Centre for Sports & Exercise Medicine -
National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes
National Orthopaedic Alliance
National Trails
NextGen EHS
Northern Counties Dance Teachers Association

Nuffield Health
Oldham Active
Oldham Community Leisure
On The Mend
Orthopaedic Research UK
Outdoor Industry Association
Paddle UK
Parkour UK
Parkwood Leisure
Pendle Leisure Trust
Places Leisure
Play England
Plymouth Active Leisure
Pozzoni Architecture Ltd
Precor Fitness Limited
Quartz Sequoia Events Ltd (Elevate)
Right Directions (Management) Ltd
Rounders England
Royal Society for Public Health
Royal Yachting Association
Rugby Football League (RFL)
Rugby Football Union (RFU)
Sandwell Leisure
SCL Education Group
Shapemaster Global (Innerva)
Skateboard GB
Special Olympics GB
Sport for Confidence
Sport 4 Life UK
Sport in Mind
Swimming Teachers Association (STA)
Strategic Leisure

Surfing England
Swim England
Swimming Teachers Association
Table Tennis England
Technogym UK Ltd
The Adult Cerebral Palsy Movement
The Grounds Management Association
The Gym Group
The Ramblers
The Taskforce for Lung Heath
Thomas Pocklington Trust
Total Fitness
Trafford Leisure
Trail Riders Fellowship
Trilogy Leisure
Versus Arthritis
Volleyball England
Women in Sport
Wythenshawe Forum
Zoom Media
3 1 5 Fitness
3D Leisure
Rebecca Adlington OBE
Morgan Bolding
Dame Darcey Bussell DBE
Jacob Dawson
Thomas Digby
Charlie Elwes
Dr Dale Esliger
Rory Gibbs
Professor Ben Kelly
Professor Rosie Meek
Dr Hayley Mills
Ugo Monye
Adam Olaore
Professor Greg Whyte OBE
Amy Williams MBE