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Physical activity: key points

Public health implications

  • Regular physical activity of at least moderate intensity provides general health benefits across a range of diseases and across all ages.
  • The greatest health benefits occur when the least active people become moderately active.

Physical activity policy

  • Helping more people be more active, more often is an over-arching policy objective of the Scottish Government. This was reflected by the addition of a National Indicator to 'increase physical activity' to the National Performance Framework in 2012.
  • The key national legacy programme designed to influence population levels of activity in adults and children is the national Physical Activity Implementation Plan: A More Active Scotland. This 10 year plan links to the legacy ambitions of hosting the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Physical activity levels in Scotland

  • An estimated 63% of adults (aged 16 years and over) met the guideline to do at least 150 minutes moderate or 75 minutes vigorous activity (or an equivalent combination of these) over a week in 2015.
  • Men were more likely than women to meet physical activity guidelines in 2015 (68% and 59%, respectively).
  • An estimated 73% of children (aged 2-15 years) in Scotland met the physical activity guideline for children in 2015 when including activity done at school (lower than in 2014, but higher than 2008). Boys (77%) were more likely than girls (69%) to meet the guideline.
  • The data show little evidence that progress is being made towards meeting national targets for increasing walking, cycling and overall physical activity levels.
  • Physical inactivity was estimated to have cost the NHS in Scotland £94.1 million in 2010-2011 (Foster et al, 2013).

Section updates:

  • The last major update of this section was completed in September 2017.
  • The next major update is due to be carried out by end December 2017.
Page last updated: 14 September 2017

© Scottish Public Health Observatory 2014