“The human body is designed to be on the move. We still have the genetic makeup of a hunter-gatherer even though most of us remain seated for much of the day.” Dr William Bird MBE

Not moving leads to damage from free radicals released by mitochondria in human cells. This causes premature aging and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia and depression. There is no medication or diet that will prevent this damage. There is a simple cure though – being more active!

Physical activity has more health benefits than any other single intervention. Globally, around 23% of adults aged 18 and over were not active enough in 2010 (men 20% and women 27%). In high-income countries, 26% of men and 35% of women were insufficiently physically active.

Spend less time sitting still

Prolonged sitting is an independent risk factor for many diseases that is not compensated by a bout of strenuous exercise like a run (Biddle et al). So it’s important that we are not sedentary for long periods of time. Less sitting, more moving is the message. Current guidelines suggest that any sitting should be broken up every 30 minutes with a 2–3 minute bout of activity.

Spend more time doing moderate physical activity

The UK is one of the least physically active nations in the world. Intelligent Health are committed to raising levels of physical activity in the UK – and nations across the globe.

Population Atributable Fraction of Mortality due to Inactivity (%)


About half the UK population do not hit the government guideline of 150 minutes physical activity each week. Changing this will have huge benefits. 18% of all UK breast cancer deaths could be avoided through increased physical activity. That is considerably higher than in the USA, France and the Netherlands where only 3% of deaths from breast cancer are caused by inactivity. Dementia, depression, arthritis, heart disease, some cancers and Type 2 Diabetes are all associated with inactivity.

To understand more about the health benefits see the BMJ e-learning course that Intelligent Health were commissioned to develop by Public Health England. This is a free e-learning course designed for anyone with an interest in the health benefits of physical activity.

Essential Learning about the Health Benefits of Physical Activity

Essential Reports on Physical Inactivity

Read more about Dr William Bird MBE