The Nation’s Hidden Health Threat

The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine (FSEM) UK is asking MPs to recognise physical inactivity as one of the largest health threats in the UK. In its Manifesto to Improve Public Health, the FSEM sets out 8 priorities to put physical activity at the core of the UK’s healthcare system via a national preventative strategy.

Physical inactivity is now a major cause of ill health in the UK, equivalent to smoking and alcohol abuse[i], it is also a much larger health threat than obesity[ii] and directly contributes to 1 in 6 deaths.[iii] Currently, physical activity is not a frequently used health intervention in the UK and the FSEM calls upon politicians, policymakers and the next Government to address this.

Dr Roderick Jaques, President of the FSEM comments: “The healthcare agenda has been focused for too long on obesity whilst physical inactivity, a larger health threat, has gone largely unrecognised. Addressing physical inactivity through prescribed exercise provides a fresh approach to the prevention and management of avoidable diseases like cancer, diabetes, heart disease and many common musculo-skeletal conditions.

“Exercise medicine can also provide sustainable treatment for excess weight, obesity and mental health and it has an enormous application for workplace wellness and rehabilitation. Our manifesto includes essential priorities for the next Government to put physical activity at the core of healthcare and communities, providing a sustainable solution to public health and the pressures facing the NHS.”

The FSEM supports a recent study by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges[iv] recognising exercise as a “miracle cure”, too often over looked. The report focuses on the less well-known benefits of regular physical activity and the increasing risks of a sedentary lifestyle and asks doctors to take a leading role in the fight against a sedentary lifestyle.

Sport and Exercise Medicine is a relatively new and largely under-capitalised specialty in the NHS, it has a huge application across both primary and secondary care to improve public health. The cost of physical inactivity to the UK is now £20 billion per year[v]; putting physical activity at the heart of our healthcare system would not only save lives, it would save the NHS substantial amounts of money.



Follow the FSEM’s campaign on Twitter

@FSEM_UK #HiddenHealthThreat

View the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine’s Manifesto to Improve Public Health at

Read the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine’s National Health Service Information Document: A Fresh Approach in Practice

For further information contact Beth Cameron, PR & Communications for the Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine;

Email:, Tel: 0131 527 3498, Mobile: 07551903702

Notes to Editors:

  • The Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine was launched in 2006 and is an intercollegiate faculty of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
  • The Faculty has over 560 Members and Fellows, not including medical students
  • There are around 94 Sport and Exercise Medicine Doctors on the GMC specialist register
  • The FSEM not only sets standards in SEM but oversees research, training, curriculum and assessment of SEM Doctors, including providing revalidation services
  • Sport and Exercise Medicine involves the medical care of injury and illness in sport, exercise and the work place. It requires accurate diagnoses, careful clinical examination, experience and knowledge of sport and exercise specific movement patterns. SEM practitioners work in a variety of settings across primary, secondary and tertiary care. The specialty has a large scale application in improving the health of the general public through exercise advice and prescription. Further information about the specialty can be found in the Media & Resources section at

[i] Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow: Maintaining health and treating illness through regular physical activity January 2015

[iii] Public Health England: Everybody active every day November 2014

[iv] Academy of Medical Royal Colleges: Exercise the miracle cure February 2015

[v] All Party Commission on Physical Activity: Tackling Physical Inactivity a Co-ordinated Approach 2014