Leading bodies for health, sport, recreation, fitness and leisure urge Party leaders to commit to making UK most active nation in Europe

13th June, 2024

A coalition of more than 200 bodies, athletes, businesses and charities across health, sport, recreation, and physical activity has written an open letter to party leaders calling on them to use the General Election to #TakeTheLead and commit to making the UK the most active nation in Europe.

As the main parties announce their manifestos and the men’s Euros comes into focus this week, a survey* of British adults asked where they think the UK ranks in Europe’s league table for physical activity. Three-quarters (75%) guessed it would feature in the top 10, but the reality is the UK is a miserable joint-11th among 15 comparable nations.

The call for change is driven by the Active Partnerships network, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity, the Sport and Recreation Alliance, the Sport for Development Coalition, ukactive and the Youth Sport Trust, which together represent thousands of organisations, gyms, swimming pools, leisure centres, sports governing bodies, and professionals across the UK.

The letter kickstarts a new campaign launched by the organisations today (13 June) called #TakeTheLead, which will showcase the importance of creating a more active nation and, crucially, highlight the need for leadership by our national politicians to create the conditions for change.

The 226 signatories to the letter range from major health bodies to sport’s national governing bodies, education providers and the nation’s biggest fitness and leisure groups, while stars such as Rebecca Adlington, Ugo Monye, Adam Olaore and Darcey Bussell have also added their support.

The letter outlines the urgent need as well as the “unique opportunity” for any new Government to unlock the full potential of the sport, recreation and physical activity sector, in a move that would be “transformative for communities across the UK”.

It says: “To overcome our national health crisis and deliver economic growth, we believe you must commit to the ambition of making the UK the most active nation in Europe and work with the industry to deliver this vision.”

Collectively, the sector already saves the NHS £9.5bn every year by preventing illness and in total generates £85bn annually in economic and social value. However, the value generated by the sector could be far greater if the UK reaches and exceeds the activity levels of its European peers,
according to research by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

If the UK became the most active nation in Europe, the research projects:

  • Economic growth – by increasing GDP by £3.6bn every year
  • Reduced burden on the NHS – by cutting spending on preventable disease by £1bn every year
  • An improvement in people’s life satisfaction – by increasing wellbeing benefits to the value of £71bn every year.

The letter highlights priorities for the party leaders to focus on to reduce growing inequalities across the UK and drive significant change in activity levels, such as ensuring every child is active for at least 60 minutes every day, cutting red tape holding back growth, and embedding physical activity pathways into health and care systems.

Sport, recreation, and physical activity bind communities together across all ages, abilities and backgrounds and make the population healthier, happier, more productive and more prosperous.

Making the UK the most active nation would help to reduce pressure off the NHS, boost productivity and economic growth by helping more people to stay in work, improve physical and mental health from childhood, support the drive to net zero, and create more connected, inclusive communities.

Rebecca Adlington OBE said: “It’s time for our political leaders to take the lead and be much bolder in their ambitions for sport and physical activity in the UK.

“It’s going to be a great summer for sport but it’s about more than inspiring the next generation of
athletes, it’s about how physical activity can help fix our health crisis and improve so many lives.

“I want us to be top of podium as the most active nation in Europe and that starts with the next Government having a full plan to help us reach millions more people of all ages and backgrounds.”

Lisa Wainwright MBE, CEO Sport and Recreation Alliance, said: “By asking our political leaders to commit to making the UK the most active nation in Europe, we aren’t just asking them to commit to the power of physical activity, we are imploring them to reimagine the role of sport and recreation in society and, crucially, to put it at the heart of their policy making.

“Already in this election, we are seeing parties focus on the need to grow the economy, fix the NHS, cut crime, tackle climate change and reduce inequalities. We know that sport and recreation does all this and more – through cricket to yoga, and dance to orienteering. Getting more people, more active consistently leads to better social and economic outcomes.

“From grassroots to elite, leaders from across sport and recreation are driving transformational change across communities. But so much more could be delivered if the true potential of the sector was unlocked. That requires a renewed sense of ambition and prioritisation from policymakers. And that’s what we’re calling for – our national politicians to step up, take the lead and make the UK the most active nation in Europe.”


National Sector Partners Group:

Active Partnerships
The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA)
The Sport for Development Coalition
The Sport and Recreation Alliance
The Youth Sport Trust


The signatories:

Please click here for the full list of signatories

Abbeycroft Leisure
Access Sport
Action Group PR Active IQ
Active Luton
Active Pregnancy Foundation
Activity Alliance
Alliance of Sport in Criminal Justice
Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre
Alliance Leisure
Angling Trust
Anytime Fitness
Archery GB
Arthritis Action
Asian Sports Foundation
Association for Physical Education
Association of Colleges Sport
Asthma + Lung UK
Basketball England
BH Live
Bigwave Marketing
Boccia England
Bolton Arena
Bowls Development Alliance
Bowls England
Brio Leisure – Cheshire West & Chester Leisure CIC
British American Football
British Association of Sport Rehabilitators
British Cycling
British Equestrian Federation
British Fencing
British Gliding Association
British Gymnastics
British Horseracing Authority
British Horse Society
British Judo
British Mountaineering Council
British Nordic Walking
British Obstacle Sports
British Orienteering
British Para Table Tennis
British Rowing
British Shooting
British Society of Lifestyle Medicine
British Sub-Aqua Club
British Taekwondo
British Universities & Colleges Sport
British Weightlifting
British Wheelchair Basketball
British Wrestling
Bury Leisure
Business for Health
Canoe Camping Club
Club Kingswood
Coach Core
Code Fitness CSSC Sports and Leisure
David Lloyd Clubs
DDMix Dyaco
Edinburgh Leisure
England Touch
England and Wales Cricket Board
Endurance GB
England and Wales Cricket Board
England Athletics
England Hockey
England Lacrosse
England Netball
England Squash
English Amateur Dancesport Association
English Indoor Bowling Association
Everybody Health & Leisure
Everyone Active
Faculty of Sports & Exercise Medicine
Fearless Women
Fit Hire Limited
Fitness First
Focus Awards
Freedom Leisure
Future Fit Training
GB Boxing
GB Snow Sports
GB Wheelchair Rugby
GM Active
Goalball UK Good Boost
Gravesham Community Leisure
Greenhouse Sports
Haringey Sports Development Trust
Hurlingham Polo
Hutchison Technologies Ltd
Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing InBody UK
Independent Gyms
IndigoFitness Ltd
Intelligent Health
Inverclyde Leisure Trust
Junior Adventure Group
Keep Fit Association
Kew Green Group Limited
Kickboxing GB
Laban Guild International
Lampton Leisure Limited
Language of Dance Trust
Later Life Training
Lawn Tennis Association (LTA)
Leeds City Council – Sport
Leisure Energy
Leisure Labs Les Mills Fitness UK Limited
Life Fitness
Life Leisure
Lifestyle Fitness
London Sport
Love Recruitment
Merrithew Miha Bodytec GmbH
Mosaic Group
Move it or Lose it Move Technologies
Muslim Sports Foundation
Mytime Active
National Association of Teachers of Dancing
National Centre for Sports & Exercise Medicine – Sheffield
National Indoor Climbing Award Schemes
National Orthopaedic Alliance
National Trails
NextGen EHS
Northern Counties Dance Teachers Association
Nuffield Health
Oldham Active
Oldham Community Leisure
On The Mend
Orthopaedic Research UK
Outdoor Industry Association
Paddle UK
Parkour UK
Parkwood Leisure
Pendle Leisure Trust
Places Leisure
Play England
Plymouth Active Leisure
Pozzoni Architecture Ltd Precor Fitness Limited
PureGym Quartz Sequoia Events Ltd (Elevate) Quikswitch Quoox
Right Directions (Management) Ltd
Rounders England
Royal Society for Public Health
Royal Yachting Association
Rugby Football League (RFL)
Rugby Football Union (RFU)
Sandwell Leisure
SCL Education Group
Shapemaster Global (Innerva)
Skateboard GB
Special Olympics GB
Sport for Confidence
Sport 4 Life UK
Sport in Mind
Swimming Teachers Association (STA)
Strategic Leisure
Surfing England
Swim England
Swimming Teachers Association
Table Tennis England Technogym UK Ltd The Adult Cerebral Palsy Movement
The Grounds Management Association
The Gym Group
The Ramblers
The Taskforce for Lung Heath
Thomas Pocklington Trust
Total Fitness
Trafford Leisure
Trail Riders Fellowship
Trilogy Leisure
Versus Arthritis
Volleyball England
Amy Williams MBE
Women in Sport
Wythenshawe Forum
Xplor Zoom Media
3 1 5 Fitness
3D Leisure
Rebecca Adlington OBE
Morgan Bolding Dame Darcey Bussell DBE
Jacob Dawson
Thomas Digby Charlie Elwes
Dr Dale Esliger
Rory Gibbs
Professor Ben Kelly
Professor Rosie Meek
Dr Hayley Mills
Ugo Monye
Adam Olaore
Professor Greg Whyte OBE

*The consumer poll was carried out by Savanta in June 2024 and polled 2,732 people.

Forgot your password?