Physical Activity and Lifestyle

About us

According to Public Health England (PHE), physical inactivity is responsible for one in six UK deaths (equal to smoking) and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually (including £900 million to the NHS alone). Links between physical inactivity and disease, including cancer and poor mental health, have been demonstrated and the key role that healthcare professionals must play in the battle against inactivity is clear.

Modern physical and social environments often discourage physical activity, and misconceptions around activity abound. Despite overwhelming evidence for the negative impact of inactivity on health, and the well-established evidence for the efficacy of brief intervention by GPs on positive behaviour change in patients, many GPs do not feel equipped to routinely discuss physical activity with their patients and are unfamiliar with national guidelines.

The physical activity and lifestyle project team are working to empower GPs and their teams, to provide evidence-based information and interventions to improve patient’s lifestyles, and indeed those of practice staff.

Aim of the project

The objectives of this project are:

  • To inform and educate GPs about the benefits of physical activity for their patients and about the opportunities for physical activity and sports available nationwide.
  • To develop an active practice charter and formal accreditation of Active Practice status to encourage practice level engagement with the principles of increasing physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour. 
  • To share best practice around the use of physical activity to positively impact patient outcomes and support the development of local peer networks and contacts with a focus on physical activity. 
  • Engage with healthcare practitioners and lifestyle medicine stakeholders nationally to showcase primary care’s role in supporting the uptake of physical activity, influence conversations and leverage further support and ensure that physical activity is seen as an integral part of social prescribing. 

Key Outputs

The primary outcomes of this project include:

  1. Improved awareness amongst GPs of the importance of physical activity and the availability of physical activity opportunities and organisations available to their patients and staff. To include both local opportunities and nationwide organisations, such as Parkrun.
  2. Develop an active practice charter and Active Practice Accreditation programme. 
  3. At platform for Identifying and sharing best practice when it comes to physical activity and lifestyle interventions in primary care, developing best practice models and recommendations for future improvement. 
  4. Review of the GP curriculum
  5. Strategic influence on the national stage

Secondary Outcomes include:

  1. Increased levels of physical activity in general practice patients (and staff)
  2. Improved patient experience of physical activity related to social prescribing from general practice

Our work

Recent outputs

Clinical team

Dr Zoe Williams, RCGP Clinical Champion for Physical Activity and Lifestyle

Dr Zoe WilliamsZoe currently practices as an NHS GP in London. Her portfolio GP career means that she has multiple roles, including Public Health England Lead Clinical Champion for Physical Activity, RCGP Clinical Champion - Physical Activity and Lifestyle, and CCG Clinical Associate - Obesity and Lifestyle. She is also a Director of The British Society of Lifestyle Medicine.

Zoe's ambition has always been to combine her dedication to medicine, her passions for health and fitness as well as succeed in a career in media. She had her first taste of this when selected out of thousands for Sky 1's Gladiators and became the undefeated 'Amazon.' Zoe went on to become a resident doctor on ITV's popular daytime show 'This Morning'. She has presented across BBC networks, including BBC News broadcast, 'Horizons' and 'Trust Me I'm a Doctor'. She specializes in debunking the confusing world of medicine, in a fun and entertaining way.

In 2009 she founded the organisation 'Sportsgirls', a non-profit organisation which aims to increase the physical activity of teen girls by inspiring, educating and motivating them to be healthier and more active. In 2013 workshops were also developed for boys and the organisation was renamed 'Fit4Life'. By working in partnership with specialist community-based organisations who share our aims, we help young people gain that essential initial start in life by improving their health, wellbeing and boosting their life aspirations, to help them be the best they can be.

Dr Andrew Boyd, RCGP Clinical Champion for Physical Activity and Lifestyle

Dr Andrew Boyd

Andrew is a GP partner and appraiser in South London. He has interests and expertise in lifestyle medicine, in particular the importance of physical activity for health, and promotes and advocates for social prescribing nationally. He has held NHS academic and leadership positions in education and global health and was a 'Clinical Champion'teacher on PHE's Physical Activity team. He is one of the team that launched the successful RCGP/parkrun partnership in 2018.

He is a great believer in the physical and mental wellbeing that being active in the great outdoors brings, and when not at his (standing) desk, he is an avid cyclist, runner and ski tourer.

Dr Dane Vishnubala, RCGP Clinical Support Fellow for Physical Activity and Lifestyle

Dr Dane Vishnubala

Dane is a GP for the Haxby Group in York and a Sport and Exercise Medicine Doctor in the NHS. He is the Chief Medical Officer of Basketball England and also works for a number of professional rugby and football teams.

Dane is an experienced exercise professional of nearly 15 years and currently also runs a fitness industry training provider: CORE Fitness Education as well as working as the Chief Medical Advisor for Active IQ (A Health and Fitness Awarding Organisation). Currently, he is the Public Health England Lead Clinical Champion for Physical Activity in Yorkshire and the Curriculum Lead at Leeds University's MSc in Sport and Exercise Medicine.

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