Case study

Creating a culture of physical activity in Sheffield

Move More is a Sheffield-wide strategy that aims to make Sheffield the most active city in the UK by 2020.

People playing football, advertising the Sheffield Active Minutes app


Move More aims to make Sheffield the more active city in the UK by making it easier in every part of life to be physically active. Currently, 30% of the population in Sheffield are inactive, doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week.

What was involved

The catalyst for Move More was the establishment of the National Centre of Sport and Exercise Medicine (NCSEM), which is an Olympic Legacy programme. The objective of the NCSEM in Sheffield is to create a culture of physical activity to improve the population’s health, transforming Sheffield into the most active city in the UK.

Move More aims to create a meaningful improvement in the health, wellbeing 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.

The Move More plan provides a 5-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

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. Read the full plan.

What works well

One of the biggest challenges in the promotion of physical activity on a population level is engagement and ownership. While community focused programmes can have a positive impact on physical activity, this impact and engagement is mostly confined to a specific targeted group or groups.

Through Move More we are keen to explore the potential of engaging the whole population in a mass participation event (called the ‘Move More Month’) which not only acts as a tool to promote physical activity but can also be used to enhance the baseline picture we currently have about levels of physical activity across the city.

With this in mind, July 2016 represents the City’s inaugural Move More Month, which brings together local sector organisations and the people of Sheffield to get active and to record their physical activity during July to see how many combined minutes the city can clock up. Movements are logged on smartphones by a new and free app ‘Move More Sheffield’ which has been developed by academics from the NCSEM. Once downloaded, the app will automatically track and record minutes of activity. The public can see their movements on the app itself or via the Move More website, where the City’s total minutes will be displayed.

Those who download the free Move More app will be able to sign up to a ‘Steel City Move More’ derby which will see Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday supporters go head-to-head to see who has the most active fans. Supporters of both clubs will be invited to ‘Move More for Goals’ by pledging their football allegiance via the Move More app and then using their active minutes to score goals for their chosen team. The scores are updated regularly and broadcast via social media.

Businesses are also involved through the Move More ‘Go for Gold’ Workplace Challenge; organisations compete within their own workforce as well as challenging colleagues from across the city. Schools are also involved via an innovative Schoolyard Challenge, which is piloting Near Field Communications wristbands as a tool to introduce physical activity into the school curriculum with children clocking up tags by being physically active. The data from this is then used in maths, science and other schools lessons.

Professor Robert Copeland, project manager for the NCSEM and Move More said:

These challenges have been designed to make moving more fun. Helping people to become more active, whatever their age or ability, is probably the best thing people can do for their health and wellbeing.

It’s proven that increased activity improves overall health and happiness and reduces absenteeism, and helps create a more productive workforce. It’s not about running a marathon, but making every minute count. Instead of taking the lift, take the stairs. Instead of driving to the corner shop, walk. Every minute moving equates to one Move More Minute, which will contribute to your overall score.

Move More Month, is also supported by Olympic heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill who said:

Getting more people exercising by making physical activity fun is something I’m really passionate about. So, I’m very proud to be supporting Sheffield’s first ever Move More Month. It’s a great concept and a fantastic way of encouraging people to become fitter and healthier. As Team GB competes at the Olympic Games in Rio, I hope everybody will be inspired to get a little more active and get involved in Sheffield’s Move More Month.

Data from the Move More Month will be used to understand:

  • how best to encourage populations to be physically active
  • how we can reach populations traditionally peripheral to traditional public health campaigns

Further information

Contact Professor Robert Copeland at the National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, Sheffield and The Centre for Sport and Exercise Science, Sheffield Hallam University by:

Published 19 July 2016