Being physically active is one of the very best things we can do for our physical and mental health. It helps to prevent heart disease, strokes, diabetes, and a number of cancers; it plays an important part in helping us maintain a healthy weight; and reduces the risk of developing depression.
We know that there are many ways we can be active, such as: walking or cycling for pleasure or commuting; taking part in a sport; playing active games; gardening; or through exercise in a gym or leisure centre. But it is important that we make being active easy, accessible and part of our normal routine.
Physical activity and sport have a transformative effect on communities, by providing opportunities for people to connect with their neighbourhoods and come together in shared activities which inspire and motivate. Sport and physical activity are a powerful means of addressing isolation, building community cohesion, and developing confidence. We want to build on the success we have already achieved on our approach to get Scotland active, recognising the important role that clubs and communities play in transforming the lives of all of our citizens.
I have seen for myself the impact of locally delivered activity and recognise that the demands of our lifestyles sometime conspire to encourage us to be sedentary. I therefore want us to ensure that everyone, no matter what their background or ability, has the same opportunities to experience the pleasure and benefits of regular physical activity.
The World Health Organization has shown important leadership on this issue in its Global Action Plan on Physical Activity, ' More Active People for a Healthier World', published on 4 th June 2018. This sets out a target of achieving a 15% relative reduction in the global prevalence of physical inactivity in adults and in adolescents by 2030.
That is a challenging but vital aim, and I want Scotland to play its part by striving to reduce levels of physical inactivity in Scotland in line with that global goal.
I firmly believe that Scotland is ideally placed to be at the forefront of this global effort. We have long recognised the merit of using sport and physical activity to engage with groups and individuals to improve health, prevent ill health and address a range of other priorities such as increasing educational attainment, reducing crime, increasing employability and reducing homelessness. We were one of the first countries to develop and publish a strategy to improve physical activity and have embedded this across Government. Being active is now explicitly part of our National Outcomes, highlighting the importance we place on this issue.
It also reflects our new higher-level approach to Public Health, as set out in the joint public health priorities developed by the Scottish Government and COSLA. Physical activity, in conjunction with diet and healthy weight, forms one of those priorities. This Delivery Plan is one of five linked public health strategies and delivery plans being published in 2018, and taken together create a healthy environment whilst encouraging people to make good choices about their health, their life and their communities.
But our strengths extend well beyond that Government commitment. We have a truly exceptional outdoor environment, and world-leading access legislation that ensures everyone is able to enjoy its many benefits. We have a wide range of world-class sporting facilities that are open and accessible to communities and high performance athletes alike, and we continue to invest in activity and infrastructure to address inequalities.
We know what works and we are committed to ensuring we tap into the huge number of highly motivated and skilled people that enable and support people to be more active, more often. I am hugely appreciative of this as it is a true asset and one Scotland should rightly be immensely proud of. They include a mixture of volunteers and professionals throughout Scotland's health and social care system and in Local Authorities; staff in schools, care homes, and leisure facilities; community groups and sports clubs; and those involved in developing cycling and walking networks. This fantastic resource creates opportunities for people to get active and stay active.
This is a bold plan that commits us to systematically work across boundaries to do all we can to ensure everyone can benefit from being physically active. Whilst I recognise that we have much to celebrate, I believe this plan will build on our successes and I am delighted that the World Health Organization has recognised our commitment to this important issue. I am pleased that Scotland is ahead of many in developing such a plan, but am determined that the health and wellbeing of our population improves by getting Scots more active, more often.
Joe FitzPatrick MSP
Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing
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