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Climate Change and Physical Activity

Climate Change and Physical Activity 

Discover more about how we're getting involved with the climate change agenda...

1. The link between inactivity and carbon rich lifestyles

We might in the Humber have the UK’s biggest port and move more stuff than anywhere else in the UK but our population is not moving as we are the second most physically inactive place in England.

It is great that at the core of our economic strategy for the region, we are England’s kitchen. But we have a population which is amongst the most overweight and obsese in the UK.

The Humber population is not a healthy population and when you add the clear negative health aspects of climate change, we are an unhealthy place to live and work.

It doesn't have to be that way.

At Active Humber we believe that by simple and easy changes incorporated into all of our daily lives we can begin to turn things round.

For us in physical activity and sport if there is no planet, there is no sport.

And whilst this is true it is almost too obviously true… in a less obvious and more immediate way, changing climate impacts our ability to play sport and be active – we know people don’t like to play when its ‘too hot’ or ‘too wet’ – so hotter summers and wetter winters don’t help that much – and when it comes to flooding (a big concern for the Humber region), well unless we change our national sport to Swamp Football (it’s a real thing, look it up, played in parts of Scotland, and there is a big championship in Germany at the Wattolumpide – loose translation mud Olympics)… then participation rates will fall in the short term – we know lots of Sunday league football were lost to waterlogged pitches last year.

We believe the connection between a stable climate and the future of our playing field - planet earth - is undeniable.

We know that with an athletes mindset; determination, persistence, and relentlessness, we can in physical activity and sport use the power and energy of physical activity, to help move our community across the Humber to climate action.

It is going to be a big challenge in this RACE to carbon neutrality. We will have to adapt and be more resilient in the way we live and we believe a major adaptation for the Humber must be to move quickly from a sedentary way of living, to an active way of living.

Today's modern lifestyle of being online, charging and constantly using personal devices, using carbon-intensive media, along with the growing IT sector, is estimated to have the same carbon footprint as the airplane industry and will consume as much as 20% of the world’s electricity by 2030.

The evidence on time-use suggests that replacing screen time with physical activity or sleep is very beneficial to health outcomes. Therefore, supporting individuals to adjust their daily activities with behaviours that are less carbon-intensive and more physically active will have a dual positive contribution to climate change mitigation and non-commutable diseases (NCD) reduction.

Since 2002 sedentary behaviour i.e. sitting down for move than 5 hours a hour a day has risen in the UK by 22.5%. We are getting to be very lazy and the most sedentary in Europe.

It is official from the World Health Organisation that being physically inactive is the World’s fourth biggest killer.

You sit for long periods you die. You move, death finds it a bit harder to catch up with you.

Many scientists and organisations suggest that climate change mitigation and NCD prevention efforts must go hand-in-hand. Therefore, strategies targeting both sustainability and human health should be developed for dual benefits, for example:

Using public transport and active transportation (e.g. cycling and walking) instead of driving.

Engaging in different types of outdoor activities rather than spending time indoors in front of a screen.

Consuming diets rich in plant-based proteins.

All the data is telling us the truth about climate change and physical inactivity.

The Centre for Active Living conducted a case study on NCD mortality rates that showed that in high-income countries with economic development and industrial processes associated with high GHG (Green-House-Gas) emissions and high levels of access to electricity resulted in low levels of physical activity.

We can see this clearly across the Humber and as individuals we have to change our unending appetite to afford new materials (e.g. fossil-fuelled vehicles, televisions, computers, and other electronic devices). Also, more access to electricity results in increased carbon-intensive, sedentary behaviours (e.g. sitting in a motorised vehicle or in front of a screen) and less time spent in the carbon-free outdoors and being physically active. These behavioural patterns undeniably and negatively impact human health and the climate across the Humber.

There are many carbon reduction targets at present but two relevant for today’s discussion from differing World Bodies in the way we must radically change the way we live, work, and consume are;

a 10% relative reduction in physical inactivity by 2025

and keep the global temperature increase to well below 20C by 2050.

To help achieve those two targets we at Active Humber believe in a bottom-up, small-scale action planning approach with a particular focus on behavioural modification strategies consisting of physical activity and screen time/media use behaviour.

It is about individuals aiming to decarbonise their daily living as much as possible. For instance, choose to use active modes of transportation (e.g. walking and cycling instead of driving), and replace carbon-intensive behaviours (e.g. screen time and live streaming) with carbon-free physical activity or outdoor time. These behavioural change strategies will contribute to obtaining dual environmental and health benefits.

Being physically active every day really can help us in our overall race to carbon neutrality across the Humber. Get out of that chair and be active!

2 Active Humber ‘Race to carbon neutral’ plan

This is our six point ‘race to carbon neutral’ game plan.

Overall to achieve this plan we want to act as system change agent, advocating and influencing the conditions for climate conscious policy and investment through the medium of physical activity and sport. There is a need for more research into carbon intensive lifestyles as well as what practical things we can do now.

  1. Encourage everyone to be physically active, it helps the environment
  2. It not only helps the environment but it helps people value their environment.
  3. Encouraging the development of infrastructure that encourages physical movement of people e.g. active travel.
  4. Promote and encourage people to actively use green and open recreational spaces.
  5. Promote mass communication campaigns like ‘This Girl Can’ and ‘We are undefeatable' alongside mass participation events to get people active
  6. Training of professionals to better integrate the value of physical activity into their professional roles.
  7. Advocate for climate conscious policy development with physical activity at its heart.

3 Waterline Summit 2020

Active Humber is the Community Sponsor of the Waterline Summit 2020 and you can find at the link here what is happening at the Summit. 

Listen to the seminar on the Monday morning where our CEO is speaking and also join the the afternoon session about the ‘Culture of Climate Change’

4 Active Design

Modern-day life can make us inactive, and about a third of adults in England don’t do the recommended amount of weekly exercise, but the design of where we live and work can play a vital role in keeping us active.

As part of our drive at Active Humber to create an active environment which also creates a more carbon neutral environment, we support and encourage the adoption of the Sport England Active Design 10 principles which wrap together the planning and considerations that should be made when designing the places and spaces we live in. It’s about designing and adapting where we live to encourage activity in our everyday lives, making the active choice the easy choice whilst be kind to the environment.

This short film about Active Design shows how we can all encourage people to choose the active option by building a sustainable infrastructure that creates opportunities for all types of physical activity.

5 United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework

The United Nations is inviting the sports sector to become a climate leader by joining in a new climate action for sport movement that will set the trajectory and provide the support for sport to play a winning role in achieving global climate change goals. Uniting behind a set of principles, this movement of sports organisations and their communities will work together to get on track for the net zero emission economy of 2050 that global leaders agreed in Paris.

The activities under Sports for Climate Action have two overarching objectives:

(a) Achieving a clear trajectory for the global sports community to combat climate change, through commitments and partnerships in congress with verified standards, including measuring, reducing, and reporting greenhouse gas emissions in line with well below 2 degree scenario as set out in the Paris Agreement;

(b) Using sports as a unifying tool to drive climate awareness and action among global citizens.

The participants in the Sports for Climate Action Initiative will commit to adhere to the following five principles:

(a) Principle 1: Undertake systematic efforts to promote greater environmental responsibility;

(b) Principle 2: Reduce overall climate impact;

(c) Principle 3: Educate for climate action;

(d) Principle 4: Promote sustainable and responsible consumption;

(e) Principle 5: Advocate for climate action through communication.

To find out more go to - and watch this video below.

6 Active travel, walking and cycling

Active travel is any form of human-powered travel, with the most popular forms being walking or cycling.

Many public transport trips include a portion of active travel at the beginning and end of every journey (walking to-and-from a local bus stop or train station), taking public transport is another popular form that is available to us all across the Humber - just remember to maintain proper physical distancing protocols if and when you do take public transport.

Trips to the shops or to-and-from school or work, whatever you are up to, leaving the car at home can be the perfect way to work some active minutes into your week. Remember, every adult in the UK (16 years or over) needs 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week, while children (5 to 15) require 60 minutes of physical activity every single day.

Read more about how you can integrate Active Travel into your everyday life.

Here are some partners we work with and what they're doing in this area;

Living Streets- Whose mission is to achieve a better walking environment and inspire people to walk more.

Get in touch 

Please look around our website at all the things we are doing to encourage people across the Humber to be less sedentary in their daily lives and more physically active. We are keen to work with those who are encouraging people to walk and cycle more in their daily lives as well as other ways of being active each day. Please do get in touch if you want to know more about we do.

T: 01482 244344