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Physical activity

Movement makes people happier and healthier, and it does the same thing for our communities – with life changing, sustainable benefits that have huge economic and social value. In Plymouth we have shared vision to become one of Europe’s most vibrant waterfront cities providing quality of life for everyone and to be the most physically active coastal city in England by 2034.

Health benefits

Physical inactivity is associated with 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually (including £0.9 billion to the NHS alone). Unfortunately, our population is around 20% less active than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, it will be 35% less active by 2030. Physical activity has significant benefits for health, both physical and mental, and can help to prevent and manage over 20 chronic conditions and diseases, including some cancers, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and depression.

Health benefits
OHID 2022

Plymouth’s Health

Thrive Plymouth is our plan to improve health and wellbeing and reduce health inequalities in the city. It is based on the knowledge that four lifestyle behaviours (including levels of physical activity) are risk factors in four chronic diseases that together account for 54% of deaths in Plymouth (i.e. 4-4-54). By addressing these four lifestyle behaviours, we hope to prevent these chronic diseases and reduce the number of deaths associated with them.

When it comes to physical activity in Plymouth, more than 30% of adults and almost 40% of children and young people are not active enough for good health (Active Lives Survey 20/21).

Active to Thrive

Active to Thrive is a Plymouth wide, long term, strategic action plan to 2034, developed collaboratively with partners for implementation across the whole physical activity system, encompassing all sectors that contribute to the provision of physical activity in the city. It aims to empower the least active and under-served communities across the city to be more active, enabling a greater chance of them thriving. This plan is informed by relevant insight pertinent to those communities.

Active to Thrive wheel diagram

Active for Health: Physical activity, sport and leisure is used as an evidenced means to help prevent and manage chronic disease and long-term health conditions, enabling the people of Plymouth to live a full life whilst relieving the pressure on health and social care services.

Active Communities: People are empowered to access physical activity, sport & leisure and help to create sustainable activities and interventions. Communities are integral to the decision-making process, so that anything planned, implemented or delivered is based on their needs.

Active Environments: Creating spaces to enable people to be active and which are more appealing for everyone, whether that’s in how they choose to move around their local neighbourhood, use green and blue spaces or access a dedicated space for physical activity & sport.

Active Facilities: Buildings are designed and utilised to enable, empower and encourage people to move in a way that meets their needs and wants, where they feel like they belong and can move in a safe and inclusive way.

Active Travel: Creating the conditions for people to walk or cycle for everyday journeys rather than solely for leisure or fitness. Examples may include walking or scooting or cycling to the shops, work or school – active travel can offer a convenient, accessible and affordable way to move more.

Active Children and Young People: Young people have positive experiences in physical activity, sport & leisure, where they are heard and their needs are paramount. It provides a good start to their life and can help to form an active habit and identify that is carried into adulthood.

Active for All has been distilled into its own theme, to further strengthen the commitment to inclusion and ensure this is embedded throughout the other 6 strategic themes. This theme is designed to be cross cutting in nature but can also involve specific project delivery and funding.

Active to Thrive is a plan for Plymouth and not just for the City Council. It has been developed by Active Devon and the Office of the Director of Public Health through collaboration with partners and stakeholders, who will continue to meet regularly and work together to shape the deliverables in order to achieve the outcomes.

If you would like get in touch regarding Active to Thrive please email

Looking for advice on how to get active?

No matter how much you do, physical activity is good for your body and mind. Adults should aim to be active every day, some is good – more is better. Even something as simple as a daily brisk walk can boost your energy, lift your mood and make everyday activities feel easier. If you are looking for advice on how to get started, or to find local opportunities, the websites below are a good place to start.