Liverpool is to become one of the world’s first Global Active Cities, and the first in the UK, in an announcement to be made on Saturday, 29 September to mark World Heart Day.
Liverpool and five other cities – Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hamburg, Germany; Lillehammer, Norway; Ljubljana, Slovenia; and Richmond, British Columbia, Canada – have worked hard to offer all their residents the opportunity to choose active and healthy lifestyles and improve their well-being. Each city has embraced a management model that motivates people at risk of inactivity-related illnesses to take up regular physical activity and sport.
In order to receive the Global Active City label, they each had to pass an independent audit with a stringent review of their physical activity and sports strategies and working practices.
The Global Active City Standard was created with input from more than 70 experts in health, sport and social sciences; legacy and sustainability; tourism; and urban planning and management. A number of key figures from Liverpool took part in the process and, because of their advanced work in delivering the Liverpool Active City Strategy. Liverpool City Council, NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) were development partners for the model.
Deputy Mayor, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “We are delighted to be named among the world’s first Global Active Cities. Together with our partners, we have done a tremendous amount of collaborative work in recent years to develop innovative approaches, such as the Fit for Me campaign, and to embed physical activity across our communities, health pathways and workplaces to encourage people to build activity into their daily lives.
“We are proud of the unique partnership between Liverpool City Council, Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group and our key stakeholders, supported by our Sport and Recreation and Public Health teams, and we’re committed to using the Global Active City title to drive forward our work in inspiring people living and working in Liverpool to be more active every day for life.”
The Liverpool Active City Strategy was originally launched in 2005 to boost levels of activity and to mobilise partners across a range of sectors to set out towards a different future together. Liverpool is one of the most deprived cities in England yet has developed a globally recognised approach that aims to enable people to become more physically active. The city’s Physical Activity and Sport Strategic Stakeholders have developed an ambitious vision for Liverpool to be the most active city in England by 2021, pioneering a progressive physical activity and sport strategy, which has relied heavily on evidence-based research to target, inactive groups with multiple barriers to becoming more active. They have also pursued innovative, outside-the-box ideas, to test new approaches to inspiring the whole population to become more active.
Research over the last three years has indicated that attitudes towards physical activity are shifting and that this is having a positive effect on levels of inactivity.
Doctor Maurice Smith, Clinical Director from NHS Liverpool CCG, said: “The evidence shows that if you can get a population physically active, you will make huge benefits across a range of areas. In Liverpool, we worked out in 2016 that if we got 100% of the city physically active, each year we would prevent 400 deaths, almost 2,500 cases of diabetes, 140 to 150 hospital admissions for coronary heart disease, 50 cases of breast cancer, and 30-40 cases of colorectal cancers. These benefits far exceed anything you could do medically and certainly exceed all the screening procedures that go on.”
Regular physical activity can contribute to reducing the risk of a number of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases, as well as a number of mental disorders. The Active Well-being Initiative (AWI), an international NGO responsible for the Global Active City label, works with city leaders to help them provide projects and services that engage local residents who have or are likely to develop these NCDs. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that adults do a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity each week, and children aged five to 17 should do an hour each day.
Dr Lynne Boddy, Physical Activity Exchange Lead based within the Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences at LJMU, said: “Physical inactivity is a global public health issue, and it is important that cities pull together to promote active lifestyles to bring about meaningful changes. It is fantastic that Liverpool has been named as one of the first Global Active Cities. The Physical Activity Exchange has a long track record of working within Liverpool, but also as a development partner for the Active Well-being Initiative, we are pleased to see that cities are prioritising physical activity and meeting the necessary standards to be awarded Global Active City status.”
The Global Active City programme was founded by Evaleo, a sustainable health association, and TAFISA, The Association For International Sport for All, with the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The first cities have been invited to receive their awards from the AWI in the presence of IOC President Thomas Bach, at the Olympism In Action Forum in Buenos Aires, as part of the opening events for the Youth Olympic Games. Buenos Aires’ Global Active City strategy – Ciudad Activa – is one of the many legacies of the Games for the local population.
The Active Well-being Initiative recommends that cities which want their populations to be more active should start by identifying key stakeholders and available resources, and partnering with local public health teams, community engagement leads and universities, to find which groups are most at risk from inactivity, and least engaged, and how to reach them.