A mother and her two sons on a country walk

NHS England Scheme to Reward UK Families for Hitting Exercise Goals

It has been revealed that families in the UK could be offered food shopping discounts, reduced-price sportswear, and free cinema tickets if they are successful in reaching exercise targets as part of an initiative to lower the burden of lifestyle-related illness on our NHS.

The plan for people across the UK to collect rewards if they successfully walk a stipulated number of steps will make up part of NHS England’s proposals for 10 “Healthy New Towns”, which has been set out with the intention of addressing worrying healthcare issues that include dementia and obesity.

The Healthy New Towns Initiative Explained

The “Healthy New Towns” programme was initially rolled out in March 2016 and is essentially a response to the strain the NHS has been experiencing as a result of the staggering amount of disease associated with sedentary lifestyles. In 2015-16, in excess of one in five children in reception classes, and more than one in three in year six, were either obese or overweight.

In a single year, Britain loses more than 130 million working days due to ill health. A Design Council guide estimates that a quarter of British adults walk less than nine minutes in an entire day.

Now, NHS England has brought together renowned clinicians, designers and technology experts to reimagine how healthcare can be delivered in the designated destinations chosen to trial the programme. This will give NHS England the chance to showcase what’s possible.

The 10 sites to trial this campaign are; Halton in Chesire; Whitehill and Bordon in Hampshire; Cranbrook in Devon; Darlington in County Durham; Barking Riverside in London; Whyndyke Farm in Fylde, Lancashire; Bicester in Oxfordshire; Northstowe in Cambridgeshire; Ebbsfleet Garden City in Kent; and Barton Park in Oxford.

Why Do We Need to Introduce the Campaign?

There are many reasons for the initiative to be trialled, and there are some damning facts about the UK population’s health that back this up. On top of the facts already mentioned, NHS England says:

  • The number of children who are obese doubles during primary school – from one in ten five year olds, to one in five eleven year olds.
  • Today, a mere 21% of the UK’s children play outdoors, in comparison to 71% of their parents when they were children, Design Council figures show.
  • Physical inactivity plays a direct role in 1 in 6 deaths and has a significant overall economic impact of £7.4 billion.

With these stats in mind, the initiative’s options to be tested at some of the named sites include:

  • Fast food-free zones near schools
  • Designing safe and appealing green spaces
  • Building dementia-friendly streets
  • Ensuring people can access new GP services using digital technology

The improvements will be set out to echo the needs of their local populations when plans are drawn up. Furthermore, design questions being asked include:

  • Why are children happy to walk all day around a theme park but often get bored on every-day journeys?
  • Is it possible to design adventure areas into streets as a way of encouraging walking and play?

And for the ageing population:

  • How far away are we from a town where increased numbers of older people live independently and safely in their own home and are supported by improved technology and social support?

Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said the initiative had the potential to achieve something that 20 years of the Department of Health and others warning about the perils of obesity had failed to do.

When people begin to exercise more regularly and aren’t used to it, they are likely to experience aches, pains and strains, that come with overexertion. Just like people who are on the road to recovery from injuries, care should be taken. It can be beneficial to have a cooling aid for muscles that need added attention when it comes to recovery. You can be achy from a long walk or need knee replacement relief, the range is extensive, but Physicool’s range of medically formulated coolant is on hand to assist in recovery. So, if you’re planning on getting active, it may be worth getting prepared before you start out.

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