This guideline covers how to improve the physical environment to encourage and support physical activity. It makes the first ever national, evidence-based recommendations on this topic. The aim is to increase the general population’s physical activity levels.


This guideline includes recommendations on:

Who is it for?

  • Professionals responsible for the built or natural environment in the public, community, voluntary and private sectors
  • Members of the public

Is this guideline up to date?

Next review: this guideline is being replaced by NICE’s guideline on physical activity and the environment (expected to publish March 2018). This guideline’s recommendations on building interiors and school playgrounds will be incorporated in the new guideline.

Guideline development process

How we develop NICE guidelines

Your responsibility

The recommendations in this guideline represent the view of NICE, arrived at after careful consideration of the evidence available. When exercising their judgement, professionals and practitioners are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or the people using their service. It is not mandatory to apply the recommendations, and the guideline does not override the responsibility to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual, in consultation with them and their families and carers or guardian.

Local commissioners and providers of healthcare have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual professionals and people using services wish to use it. They should do so in the context of local and national priorities for funding and developing services, and in light of their duties to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, to advance equality of opportunity and to reduce health inequalities. Nothing in this guideline should be interpreted in a way that would be inconsistent with complying with those duties.

Commissioners and providers have a responsibility to promote an environmentally sustainable health and care system and should assess and reduce the environmental impact of implementing NICE recommendations wherever possible.