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Charity funded initiative cuts risk of serious ill-health whilst significantly reducing CO2 emissions

A physical activity initiative to tackle sedentary lifestyles is proving successful in getting drivers to ditch their cars and walk or cycle instead. Now, the National Charity Partnership, a partnership between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Tesco, is encouraging more people to leave their cars at home and walk more often in order to halt or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease.

Low physical activity is one of the top ten causes of disease and disability in England. Public Health England recommends that persuading inactive people (those doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week) to become more active could prevent one in ten cases of stroke and heart disease in the UK and one in six deaths from any cause [1].

The National Charity Partnership is funding a programme called Beat the Street to tackle sedentary lifestyles in six areas of the UK [2]. Since 2015, the initiative has helped improve the health of some of the UK’s most inactive communities. 

Around 150,000 people took part in the National Charity Partnership-funded Beat the Street initiative last year. Results show that all participants become more active throughout the seven-week initiative, with a 13 percent increase in the number of adult participants meeting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week by the end of the ‘game’. Twelve months on, participants who were previously deemed ‘inactive’ before taking part in Beat the Street had more than doubled their weekly level of physical activity [3].

The project has been found not only to improve people’s physical activity levels, but to reduce CO2 emissions by hundreds of thousands of kilograms. Thanks to the partnership’s Beat the Street ‘games’, more than 736,000 kilograms of CO2 emissions were saved in six areas of the UK last year [4] - the equivalent of taking 144 cars off the road for one year.  

Alex Davis, head of prevention for the National Charity Partnership, said: “Driving regularly can contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease. What’s more, air pollution is associated with a number of other health problems, so ditching the car will be beneficial not only for your own health but for future generations too.”

Tesco colleagues this month are taking on a walking challenge of their own as Tesco continues its commitment to helping customers and colleagues live healthier lives by setting out on The Great Tesco Walk, a month-long trek between Land’s End and John O’Groats to raise funds for the National Charity Partnership.

The walk will see thousands of Tesco colleagues from across the country join together to walk in relay between 5 September and 5 October, with the aim of adding to the £21 million already raised since the partnership began in 2015, while increasing awareness of these two leading health charities. More information can be found at www.thegreattescowalk.com.

 

Notes to editors:

1. Public Health England. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-matters-getting-every-adult-active-every-day/health-matters-getting-every-adult-active-every-day

2. Beat the Street is a seven week initiative that turns towns into ‘interactive games’ and encourages communities to get walking and cycling. Beat the Street is run by Intelligent Health who installs 'beat boxes' in numerous places around the area. Participants tap these boxes with a card as they journey around their community to win points and prizes. The National Charity Partnership funds this initiative in the following areas: East London, Sandwell, Nottingham, Belfast, North Lanarkshire and Rhondda Cynon Taf in Wales.

3. Participants classed as ‘inactive’ were those who reported being active on zero to one days per week before taking part in Beat the Street. Of those participants, they had all increased their level of physical activity to three days a week one year after playing Beat the Street.

4.This calculation is based on a retrospective analysis involving 3,128 people who took part in the Beat the Street initiative across North Lanarkshire, Sandwell, Belfast, Nottingham, East London and Rhondda Cynon Taf in 2016. Respondents were asked how many times they chose to walk or cycle for journeys of at least 15 minutes instead of using their car during the seven week long Beat the Street ‘game’ in their area. It was then assumed that this behaviour continued for a further six months afterwards. CO2 emissions were calculated using the assumption that the average car uses 0.44 CO2 per 15 minutes.

5. Beat the Street is being funded by the National Charity Partnership as part of its Let’s Do This campaign. The campaign is working to help millions of people look after their bodies and reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease by moving more and eating healthily. The National Charity Partnership funds a number of physical activity and healthy eating programmes and has an online 8 Week Challenge to help people make small, positive lifestyle changes.

6. For more information about Intelligent Health, the company behind Beat the Street, please visit www.intelligenthealth.co.uk.