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Physical activity expert announced for Active Sussex Network

Physical activity expert announced for Active Sussex Network

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Introducing Dr Anna Lowe, a chartered physiotherapist, with a special interest in physical activity and healthy ageing. 

Anna, is the programme manager at the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) in Sheffield.  The centre is an Olympic Legacy programme with the objective to create a culture of physical activity to improve the population's health. 

Anna is also the Allied Health Physical Activity Clinical Champion with Public Health England. In her role she supports a national network of 50 health care professionals, who are all trained-up to deliver training to other health care professionals about physical activity and how to embed it into routine conversations with a particular focus on supporting people with a long-term conditions to become more physically active. 

Move More 

The NCSEM- Sheffield, a partnership of 12 anchor organisations across the city, developed the innovative strategy - Move More Plan: A framework for increasing physical activity in Sheffield 2015-2020. 

The overall aim is to make Sheffield the most active city in the UK, by making it easier in every part of life to be physically active.

"The strategy attracted a lot of attention at the time as it was very forward thinking. It wasn't just about sport, it wasn't about delivery of services, it was taking a systems approach," explained Anna. 

"It maps out and looks in detail at all aspects of life in Sheffield. We looked at all the factors that influence activity and the strategy tried to really connect and co-ordinate efforts across the whole city to enable active living. 

"It was co-produced by the anchor organisations across the city - so it takes a whole city view of where the opportunities were around physical activity. That partnership engagement was really helpful and important."

'Move More' aims to create a meaningful improvement in the health, well-being and quality of life of everybody living in the city. There is strong evidence that creating a culture of physical activity in Sheffield could lead to over 600 premature deaths being prevented each year as well as providing social, physical and economic benefit to the city.

Sector working 

The Move More plan provides a five-year overall direction and a rationale for investment in increasing opportunities and stimulating a demand to be physical activity from a number of sectors including:

  • planning
  • transport
  • health
  • sport
  • education
  • workplaces

"It was about moving away from that viewpoint of individual responsibility - that if we just tell people that they should be more physically active then we'd solve the problem," said Anna.

"Instead of the idea that the burden of decision making sits with an individual, really it is about looking at the whole - that includes the social, cultural, economic, workforce and environment factors and dynamics that surround that person."

Priority areas 

The Move More plan identifies 6 priority areas for action which aim to re-engineer physical activity back into daily life. These are:

  1. Empowered communities
  2. Active environments
  3. Active people and families
  4. Physical activity as medicine
  5. Active schools and active pupils
  6. Active workplaces and an active workforce

These outcomes are supported by 12 guiding principles that come together as a framework to provide direction and influence investment in physical activity promotion across Sheffield.

"It is about thinking about the system and structural changes that we might be able to make that influence individuals immediate environment so it's easier for them to become more physically active," said Anna. 

"An important message is also to acknowledge that there is never going to be a silver bullet - there is never going to be just one solution and also acknowledging that it is a major undertaking that may take many years."

Active Sussex Network 2020 Keynote Speaker questions 

Q: What advice would you give to local providers, charity, education and voluntary partners in Sussex who are aiming to increase physical activity through organisational collaboration?

Relationship building is key - spending time getting to know people and understanding where different organisations are coming from. It is all about really trying to clearly articulate where the shared interest is because everyone comes to meetings with their own organisational hat on and their own aims and objectives. It's really important to create a shared vision and make sure it works for everybody. 

It's also important for organisations to take the time to really develop trust with people and it not always being just a transaction and having that absolute belief in what you are doing. None of us should be there if we don't actually believe that we can improve physical activity levels across the area we work in. If it feels like it is completely futile then we haven't got the right people around the table. You need to have that real belief that it can be done, it's important and that it matters to their organisation. 

It is important to get those partners together around the table with that genuine commitment and that genuine shared belief. Thinking carefully about who that collaboration should be with and how you can keep people's interests and maintain it and do some really meaningful work together. You need to look at the research, data and insight but also the public health research around how do you impact populations activity levels. It isn't just through re-shaping the system.

Q: What do you want delegates to take away from your Keynote presentation at the Active Sussex Network 2019? 

I want individuals to go away and think about how you learn about what's working? Also, to question how can you use data to inform your approach and how can you build in feedback loops, so that you can get better at what you're doing and create an organisation that can learn as it moves forward.

We really need to challenge ourselves away from defaulting to discussions about individuals and think about the real system changes, structural stuff we can actually do to plumb activity into the system.

Next Event

Dr Anna Lowe is the Keynote Speaker at the Active Sussex Network 2020. She will deliver an inspiring presentation where she will share the experience of implementing a systems approach to physical activity across Sheffield.

Anna will also discuss the opportunity to influence activity levels of people with long-term conditions and the national Public Health England funded Physical Activity Clinical Champions programme and challenge delegates to focus their attention on how they can make an impact.  

The next Active Sussex Network 2020 will take place on Thursday 27 February, at Buxted Park Hotel.

The network will be a great opportunity to be inspired and develop new ideas through presentations, best practice, case studies, workshops and networking.


Registration is now open for this event! Places are limited, and bookings are on a first-come first-served basis, so we recommend you registering for the event as soon as possible. 

Buy your ticket here to avoid disappointment. 

More information? 

  • Find out more information about the Network here. 
  • Read more about the previous Active Sussex Network event here.
  • Photo gallery from the Active Sussex Conference 2019 here.
  • Read more about Born Barikor, the previous Keynote Speaker here.
  • Watch Delegate videos from the Active Sussex Network 2019 here.