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5 Sep 2022 | 10:10

On September 21st National Fitness Day will see physical activity and leisure providers come together to raise awareness of the benefits of getting active to our lives and communities. The Coalition spoke to Huw Edwards, CEO of uk active which co-ordinates the annual day, about the aims and objectives of National Fitness Day 2022.

Hi Huw, thanks for speaking to us. Can you provide an overview of National Fitness Day? 

Huw: National Fitness Day is the UK’s most active day of the year, powered by the whole physical activity sector – our nation’s gyms, pools, leisure centres, suppliers and online providers, sports clubs and studios. It’s a day when people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities come together to celebrate the fun of fitness and also to recognise the incredible physical, social and mental benefits it brings to our lives. Last year, using the theme ‘Fitness Unites Us’, we helped to inspire more than 22 million people across the whole of the UK to be active on the day – making it the biggest National Fitness Day yet. This could not have happened without the support of all of our members and partners, who truly represent the nation’s engine room of physical activity.


This year the theme is ‘Fitness Unites Us’ again. Can you explain the rationale behind this? 

We have decided to continue the Fitness Unites Us theme in 2022 because it really helps to demonstrate the inclusive power of physical activity and the role it plays in bringing people from all walks of life together, in every community. In addition, this year we want to send a supportive message to the nation during what is a particularly tough time for many, due to the cost-of-living crisis. Through National Fitness Day we can showcase the huge breadth of options the sector provides that can help support all of us to prioritise our health and wellbeing. We want every organisation in the sector to get involved by hosting a free event or activities on the day – whether in-person or online [find out how at].

Why is it important to look beyond physical health and wellbeing to other areas that exercise and fitness can support, such as mental health and community cohesion?

It’s really important to recognise and promote the full range of benefits of physical activity, particularly given the growing pressures on mental health and increasing social inequalities in our lives today. In the UK, social and health inequalities increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has clearly taken its toll on the mental wellbeing of the nation, as well as physical. This has been compounded by the cost-of-living crisis. With the right approach, physical activity can help improve our mental strength and resilience. That’s why it’s never been more important for our sector to champion the ‘hidden’ benefits of physical activity. It can help to make us happier, improve our sleep, help us switch off, to connect with other people, raise our energy levels, and increase our productivity. 


In this recent report from the National Sector Partners Group (NSPG), you talk about ‘unlocking the potential’ of sport and physical activity. Can you elaborate? 

Our coalition of partners used this report to put forward a clear strategic vision for how we can unlock the potential of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector to improve the physical, mental and social wellbeing of the nation. For its part, the sector will work tirelessly to evolve its services in order to provide the highest standards of service and inclusion. On the Government’s part, there are a range of systemic interventions which it can make to help the sector grow and maximise its impact, including access to investment, tax and regulatory changes and wider policy reform. We will continue to draw on evidence from organisations across our sector, both private and public, to demonstrate our potential.

Why is it particularly important that Government reconsiders the contribution of sport, physical activity and recreation to society at this time?

We know that if the sector is supported to play its fullest role, it can be integral to successfully delivering a number of Government priorities, including ‘levelling up’, driving economic growth, achieving net zero and supporting the NHS. With pressure growing on households and our health service, our sector has a fundamental role to play in reducing the burden and improving life in our communities. Together with our partners, we will continue to demonstrate the huge economic, health and social returns provided by our sector, and the potential to grow this further. We are outlining a vision which we believe delivers against the shared ambitions of the Government and our sector.

Get involved with National Fitness Day on September 21st. 

Read ‘Unlocking the Potential’ from the National Sector Partners Group.