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How do you encourage physical activity? Brunel awarded major grant to identify top initiatives

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People in the UK are becoming less physically active. This change in our lifestyle is building up to a huge health problem, with estimates that physical inactivity is responsible for 16.9% of all premature deaths and costs the NHS over £940 million a year.

Brunel University, London's Health Economics Research Group (HERG) has been awarded £426,702 by the Department of Health to identify which interventions have been successful in getting people more active, and which offer the best value for money across England.

HERG will be taking a unique approach by considering characteristics which affect why and how people take up physical activity as well as the full range interventions. Director of HERG and project lead, Professor Julia Fox-Rushby explains “We will be looking at projects around schools and sports but also town planning, bike trails, use of signs such as suggestions to take the lift rather than the stairs and social aspects of people’s lives such as going to the GP or activities at the workplace.”

The scope of the research is huge, and the team are keen for people running successful interventions which encourage people in England to be more physically active to get in touch. Any interventions considered must be able to show evidence of their success. 

Those interested should contact Dr Nana Anokye.

As one of the leading research groups in health economics, HERG has considerable experience in the economics of physical activity. The team will be collaborating with Professor Peter Whincup from St George’s, University of London, Dr Charlie Foster from University of Oxford and Dr Barbara Jefferis from University College London. Dr Simon Taylor from Brunel’s School Of Information Systems Computing and Mathematics is developing a ‘fast and friendly’ computer model for comparing the costs and benefits of all physical activity interventions.

The results of this research will be used to inform how money could be best spent in encouraging people to be more active in England and identify which programmes are most effective for different groups of people at different stages of their lives.

Professor Fox-Rushby continues, “We hope our model opens up an understanding of how best to encourage people to be more active over their lifetime.”