Review decision: 

The sections of the guidance on 1) strategies, policies and plans 2) transport, 3) public open spaces and 4) schools should be updated, including the impacts of temporary road closures and parking restrictions.

Next review date: This guideline is being updated by the NICE guideline on physical activity and the environment update

This guidance offers the first evidence-based recommendations on how to improve the physical environment to encourage physical activity.

It is for NHS and other professionals who have responsibility for the built or natural environment. This includes local transport authorities, transport planners, those working in local authorities and the education, community, voluntary and private sectors. It may also be of interest to members of the public.

The seven recommendations cover strategy, policy and plans, transport, public open spaces, buildings and schools. They include:

  • Ensure planning applications for new developments always prioritise the need for people (including those whose mobility is impaired) to be physically active as a routine part of their daily life.
  • Ensure pedestrians, cyclists and users of other modes of transport that involve physical activity are given the highest priority when developing or maintaining streets and roads.
  • Plan and provide a comprehensive network of routes for walking, cycling and using other modes of transport involving physical activity.
  • Ensure public open spaces and public paths can be reached on foot, by bicycle and using other modes of transport involving physical activity.

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 are expected to take this guideline fully into account, alongside the individual needs, preferences and values of their patients or service users. The application of the recommendations in this guideline is not mandatory and the guideline does not override the responsibility of healthcare professionals to make decisions appropriate to the circumstances of the individual patient, in consultation with the patient and/or their carer or guardian.

Local commissioners and/or providers have a responsibility to enable the guideline to be applied when individual health professionals and their patients or service users 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 compliance with those duties.