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12 Sep 2018
Tanni Grey-Thompson: 'Elevate physical activity from the fringes to the heart of our political debate'
By Tom Walker
Tanni Grey-Thompson: 'Elevate physical activity from the fringes to the heart of our political debate'
Tanni Grey-Thompson was speaking at the ukactive National Summit earlier today

Ukactive chair Tanni Grey-Thompson has made a passionate call for the government to finally recognise the importance of physical activity and to include it at the "heart" of the UK's political debate.

Speaking at the ukactive Summit in London this morning, Grey-Thompson said she was frustrated at the government's inability to include physical activity in policy making, despite all the evidence showing that exercise is a "magic pill" which could "save the NHS".

"Simon Stevens – chief executive of the NHS – stood on this very stage two years ago and said physical activity and exercise could prevent 30 per cent of cases of dementia, 30 per cent of osteoporosis, radically reduce the number of many cancers and eliminate type 2 diabetes," she said.

"Yet, the pace of change we seek from Government for our sector remains glacial and the comprehensive partnership we seek with government remains down the track."

"I understand politics is about priorities, but how many bigger priorities can there be than the health of our nation?"

She added that the issue isn't aided by the chaos caused by Brexit, which has seemingly paralysed government on all other topics.

"Brexit has changed the rules of political discourse in this country and has consumed almost all of the focus and energy of the vast majority of politicians and civil servants in Westminster, from the Prime Minister down."

Grey-Thompson used her speech as a rallying call to bring the physical activity, sport and wellness sectors together and "speak as one", in order to make the case for exercise heard.

"I want this summit to be the call to action for our sector to mobilise, united in its demands, to leave the government and all the other main political parties with no doubt that we can have a profound impact of the health and prosperity of this nation," she said.

She also cited figures which showed that the way of life in the UK "wasn't working".

She referred to a World Health Organization league table for physical activity published last week, in which the UK was ranked 123rd out of 168 nations – calling the country's placing a "national disgrace".

"The way we are living is not working and the way we are reacting is too slow," she added.

"The Budget this autumn will set out the total public spending for the years beyond 2020.

"We need to influence this process, make the case for change, make the case for improving the health of this nation.

"And when the fog of Brexit lifts, we need to be ready to move, to scale at pace, to be heard."

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