Physical Activity in the Era of Climate Change


Our Chief Executive, David Gent explores in this blog a temperature check (pun intended) of where we are in the Humber on the links between physical activity and climate change and our commitment to making a difference.

Whether that is about changes we can make ourselves or in our organisations, or how we best relate to all the amazing work taking place across the Humber on the reduction of carbon emissions.

Reduction of Carbon Emissions in the Humber

This is not another climate change blog about saving the planet, as it will survive! This is about how as a human race we can survive and live in a way that will let the planet let us live, prosper & thrive. The UK has explicit laws that compel us to reduce carbon emissions and if we break those laws or choose to ignore them then the laws of science and nature will end up breaking us. We have to act!

Where do we start and what do we do?

I believe we start with the fact that physical inactivity is a sedentary behaviour and there is increasing evidence that those types of behaviours are really carbon intensive behaviours. The great linkage between physical activity and climate change is that if we can get the population of the Humber physically active, we get the double benefit of population health and also by reducing sedentary behaviours a significant decrease in carbon emissions.

It is quite amazing that whilst there is common agreement that the time has come to act, there has been little to no action and debate across the physical activity network of the linkages to climate change other than in the area of active travel. It does seem we have been rather ‘sedentary’ with our heads in the sand on this issue.

The Humber region is the UK’s biggest polluter on carbon emissions and also the first place going under water in the UK

The planet, also when it comes to the Humber, has a unique approach to karma. As a region by industrial sector, we are the UK’s biggest polluter on carbon emissions and also the first place going under water in the UK due to climate change. So how might we help to get some good karma back in our favour?

At Active Humber we are using this acronym - BE ACTIVE.

BE stands for Better Environment and each of the letters of ACTIVE for an action we can do to reduce the effects of climate change through physical activity.

A - Acknowledgement

We must first acknowledge the issue and recognise we do have a critical part to play.

We are starting from the point that we encourage physical activity, secondary behaviours are carbon intensive so lets us get the population active. We do need to understand the links more and how we do that but the time is to act now, even if the logic might not be as clear as we would all want it to be.

C - Change

Whilst we sort the Acknowledgement, we can start to change without knowing everything. That change can be in us as an individual or influencing the organisation we are involved with. That is why this week all of the staff at Active Humber are making personal pledges around climate change. Many little actions can have a very big effect. You can make your own pledge, Count Us In share 16 ideas to choose from that are easily achievable for everyone. 

T - Tackling

We have a role in the campaigning and spreading the message of being physically active. Too often the links on climate change have solely been linked to active travel. Climate change is a health emergency and being active is a solution. As we campaign for physical activity that has to become also about the value of physical activity to helping to improve the environment.

I - Inequalities

The cruel injustice is that even though the world’s poor are doing essentially nothing to cause climate change, they are going to suffer the most from it. It is easy to think that climate change is just about those on the equator or on an oceanic island. The reality is that the poorest in the UK are also suffering the most from issues such as flooding, etc. The poorest are also most likely to be the least active. The development of aqua greens to hold back the waters and provide a better place to live are a great way to encourage physical activity, help protect homes, and help the environment.

V - Visibility

It is too easy to just do the promotion on climate change on World Earth day and then nothing for the other 364 days. Climate change is a 365-day, 24/7-hour issue.

We are very invisible in the sport sector on green matters with a few notable exceptions. At Active Humber in all we do through our communications and marketing we are committed to telling the story through a climate change lens to question, campaign, inspire, challenge the deniers, amplify and normalise the conversation around this whole matter. That visibility will be alongside the whole issue of inequalities as we believe that is also very much linked to climate change.

E - Enthusiasm

The whole climate change debate can be very, very depressing and feeling like there's nothing I can do. Physical activity and sport are inherently good things to do as a human being and great ways to be in the company of others. Let us use the enthusiasm and excitement of activity to tell a story around climate change of what we want the World to be. If we do that alongside the world of arts and culture then hopefully we can help people to change their behaviours in a really positive way rather than just at times the very depressing lecturing that often comes with the debate. We must believe it is possible to beat climate change.

So very simply then, for a better environment just follow the six actions above and BE ACTIVE.

What can I do?

You can make your own pledge, Count Us In share 16 ideas to choose from that are easily achievable for everyone. 

Discover more about Active Humber and climate change over on our climate change web pages.

Start a conversation with us.

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