The Lancet: physical inactivity ‘just as dangerous as smoking’

A new study published in medical journal The Lancet has claimed that sedentary lifestyles and a lack of physical exercise are responsible for 5.3 million deaths – just as many as smoking – throughout the world.

Among the conclusions of the report is that the problem has become so widespread that it should be treated as a pandemic, with physical inactivity said to be the “fourth leading cause of death worldwide”.

The report states: “Although evidence for the benefits of physical activity for health has been available since the 1950s, promotion to improve the health of populations has lagged in relation to the available evidence.

“Promotion of exercise has only recently developed an identifiable infrastructure, including efforts in planning, policy, leadership and advocacy, workforce training and development, and monitoring and surveillance.

“The reasons for this late start are myriad, multi-factorial and complex. This infrastructure should continue to be formed, intersectoral approaches are essential to advance, and advocacy remains a key pillar.

“Although there is a need to build global capacity based on the present foundations, a systems approach that focuses on populations and the complex interactions among the correlates of physical inactivity, rather than solely a behavioural science approach focusing on individuals, is the way forward to increase physical activity worldwide.”

The publication of The Lancet report is timed to coincide with final preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games, with Lord Krebs, chair of the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Select Committee (STSC), criticising the legacy plans of the Games.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Krebs said the government had no credible plan to produce a health legacy from the Olympics and described sport minister Hugh Robertson as being “disinterested” in the issue.

He added that the STSC’s report on sport and exercise science – published on the same day as The Lancet report (click here to read more) – revealed that none of the 48 London GP practices surveyed were aware of the latest Physical Activity Guidelines.

Click here for the full report from The Lancet.

30 per cent off Polar Products – exclusive REPs member offer

To celebrate this great summer of sport, REPs has teamed up with Polar to offer REPs members only, the opportunity to purchase any heart rate monitor, before the 31st July 2012, from a selected range.

Ideal for fitness enthusiasts looking to improve strength and cardio, all these products have been carefully selected for our REPs members.

REPs President John Greenway responds to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology

The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) today gave a cautious welcome to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology report on sport and exercise science and medicine.

In the report the committee recommends that the NHS and NICE reach agreement on the best structure to allow a greater uptake of exercise referrals by medical practitioners.

John Greenway, the President of the Register said: “We welcome the attention that the committee has given in the report to the existence of the Register and we want to be part of the forthcoming debate on how to create greater confidence amongst the medical profession. Our properly qualified personal trainers and fitness instructors have all met the industry’s agreed national occupational standards and can be relied upon to deliver professional and effective outcomes for patients.”

He continued: “Both the Health Minister Anne Milton and the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson gave evidence to the committee, and I will be seeking urgent meetings with both my former colleagues in the autumn. This will be to brief them on the huge progress that has already been made in professionalising the fitness industry as a contribution to the forthcoming debate.”

REPs President John Greenway

There exists a group called the Joint Consultative Forum (JCF) comprising representatives from the Royal Medical Colleges and from the health and fitness industry, of which the Register is one. This group’s first task was to create a set of ‘Operational Standards’ in order to standardise the operation of Exercise Referral Schemes and create minimum criteria for the successful delivery these, currently very disparate, schemes throughout the country. These standards state clearly that Exercise Professionals working in the fitness sector delivering exercise referral must be REPs ‘Registered’ Exercise Professionals.
John Greenway states: “The conclusions of the JCF should be the starting point for the further evaluation recommended by the Lord’s Committee. It is clear from the evidence that Ministers and officials within both the NHS and NICE are unaware of the protocols already agreed between the Royal Medical Colleges and the fitness industry to facilitate the increase in exercise referral which the Committee wants to see.”

Notes for editors;

John Greenway was shadow Minister for Sport from 2000-2003. He was Chair of REPs from 2002 to 2012 when he became the Register’s President.

National Convention Programme released……

The programme for the first-ever three-day REPs’ national convention has been released.

The event will take place at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre during Leisure Industry Week in September.

Booking will open soon, and for the first time delegates will be able to mix and match which days and/or sessions they want to attend. Attendance at individual workshops will cost £15 for REPs’ members or £20 for non-members.

Each day will start at 10am and feature a different keynote speaker. Delegates can then choose from a series of different interactive workshops as well as enjoying refreshments and a buffet lunch.

Tuesday 18th September 2012

Keynote presentation by Pete Cohen (Weight Loss Guru) and three workshop sessions. You choose the workshops so check out the programme. Day 1 costs £40 for REPs’ members, £45 for non-members.

Wednesday 19th September 2012

Keynote presentation by Tim Fearon (The Extraordinary Coaching Company) and three workshop sessions –  check out the programme and choose which ones you would like to attend. Day 2 costs £40 for REPs’ members, £45 for non-members.

Thursday 20th September 2012

Keynote speaker Bob Laventure from Later Life Training will present. Delegates can then choose two workshop sessions, check out the programme to see what’s on offer. Day 3 costs £35 for REPs’ members, £40 for non-members.

Older people want to do more exercise but less than half are doing the recommended amount

Charity Age UK claims that less than half of over 55s are doing the recommended 2.5 hours of exercise per week with one in eight not doing any exercise at all.
But findings from the same research highlights that three in ten would like to take part in more exercise.
The findings have been published as part of Age UK’s Gym Open Day designed to encourage older adults who want to start an exercise regime to pay their local gyms an introductory visit.
Whilst the new research shows many older people are keen walkers (82%) and often undertake activities around the home such as gardening (75%), only 8% currently go to the gym regularly and 8% do aerobic exercise.
However, older people are keen to take part in more exercise and try something new. Over a quarter (27%) said they wanted to try swimming, with 15% mentioning they would be interested in going to the gym, 14% keen to go along to classes such as yoga or Pilates and 12% interested in aerobic exercise. More than one in five (22%) also mentioned that they prefer to exercise in a group where they may or may not know people

GPs should ask patients how far they walk, as an indicator of health

GPs should ask all patients how far they walk because it is more important to their health than either weight or blood pressure, say experts.

They warn that a lack of activity causes far more deaths than smoking, obesity or diabetes and urge family doctors to question patients on their exercise habits – particularly walking – and keep a record of them.

If patients admit to walking for fewer than 30 minutes a day they must be urged to do more.

The group of scientists from Canada, America and Australia believe that a lack of exercise leads to many cases of fatal cancers and heart disease.

However, activity can prevent hip fractures and there is evidence it may ward off dementia.

Professor Karim Khan, from the University of British Columbia said: “Activity levels are the most important factor influencing our health.

“They are much more important than our blood pressure or how many times we breathe a minute.

“In the US more people die as a result of  a lack of physical activity than smoking, obesity or diabetes. It’s fitness not fatness.”

Professor Khan, whose study is published in the Lancet, added: “Physical activity affects every system. Not getting enough can lead to a range of illnesses including cancers and diabetes.

“You don’t have to be an Olympian. If people take more than 150 minutes exercise a week, including walking, they probably don’t need to worry about it.

“If they take less their doctor needs to be encouraging them to take more.”

Professor Khan said patients could fill in forms about their exercise levels in the waiting room to save GPs time during the appointment.

“Low fitness is a better predictor of mortality than obesity or hypertension, which are health risk factors afforded far greater emphasis than fitness by the media and most health professionals,” he continued.

The researchers are recommending that doctors should record exercise along with patients’ temperature, blood pressure, pulse, and breathing.

At present the Department of Health recommends that everyone takes at least two and a half hours exercise a week – or 30 minutes spanned over five days

REPs on the move

After 10 years REPs is leaving Croydon, and from September 2012 will be based at SkillsActive’s offices in central London.

Our new address will be:

Register of Exercise Professionals
Castlewood House
77-91 New Oxford Street


Telephone: 020 8686 6464

Does having unfit parents = unfit children?

The poor habits displayed by unfit parents may be discouraging their children from leading healthier lifestyles, new research has found. Published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, the study suggested youngsters whose parents do little physical activity are less likely to exercise themselves.

A team from the University of Essex discovered children with inactive mothers and fathers have a 50 per cent greater risk of being unfit than their peers who have more fitness-conscious mums and dads.

According to the investigation, more than two-thirds of those questioned said their parents do almost no physical activity, despite the London Olympic Games – which is thrusting the issue of fitness into the limelight – being just around the corner.

Dr Gavin Sandercock, who led the research, noted: “We know that being unfit is much worse for your health than being obese and we are now finding out that it is also much more common.”

He added it is “quite frightening” to learn that one-quarter of children are unable to run at a medium jogging speed of seven mph.

Philip Johnson, a Chartered Psychologist, comments: “Parents often overestimate their influence on children. We know from sport that coaches can have a powerful influence on young athletes’ activity levels, eating habits and the way they behave more generally. Parents are even stronger role models than that.

“Parents are also in charge of family nutrition, of course, so if they encourage activity and proper nutrition they can have a good influence across a child’s lifetime.”

SkillsActive appoints new Chair

Peter Rowley

SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for Sport and Active Leisure, has appointed Peter Rowley as its new Chair of the Board.
As Chair, Peter will build on developing political and key stakeholder relationships as well as providing leadership and strategic direction to the Board of Trustees. His responsibilities include governance appraisal and ensuring best practice, overseeing compliance with The Charity Commission Code of Conduct, developing SkillsActive into a role model Sector Skills Council and leading the organisation through a significant period of political, funding and internal change.
Ian Taylor, Chief Executive Officer of SkillsActive, says: “In line with my remit to drive the business forward, Peter will play a key role in strengthening our new structure. This will ensure our core products and services continue to meet the demands and needs of all the sectors we serve, and employers we work with.”
“Peter joins on the back of a successful bid by the organisation for significant Government UKCES Growth and Innovation Funding (GIF) which will be used, in full consultation with key stakeholders and operators, to professionalise the leisure sector through the extension of our highly successful and innovative REPs registration model.”
Commenting on the appointment, Peter said: “This is a great time to be involved in sport, active leisure and learning and I’m delighted to become part of SkillsActive as it transitions from a Government funded organisation to one that is commercially and customer driven. I look forward to working with our customers, stakeholders, our new chief executive and the team that has made SkillsActive one of the most innovative, focused and respected sector skills councils in the UK.”
Whilst bringing valuable experience and advice to SkillsActive, Peter will continue to serve on the Board of Sport England and act as Sport England’s Regional Champion for Community Sport in the North East and to fulfil his role as an independent member of UK Sport’s Audit Committee, three posts which place Peter very much at the heart of sport in the UK.
Over the past few years Peter has also built an impressive portfolio of charity, voluntary and social enterprise clients, all of whom employ his services as an independent director or trustee. These include: The Sports Ground Safety Authority, Sports Leaders UK, Coachwise (the trading arm of sports coach UK) and Tees Valley Sport (County Sports Partnership). Prior to this Peter enjoyed a distinguished career in retail finance, banking and building societies, holding the post of Chief Executive of Darlington Building Society for 17 years.

Tell us your story….

The REPs’ team is always on the look out for case-studies demonstrating best practice within the industry.

Do you have a positive story to tell about how you helped a client? Or is your own career pathway into fitness out of the ordinary and worth sharing?

If you’d like to be considered to be a case-study for the Register and would be willing for your story to be used in the media please email brief details to

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