Supporting GP Practices to embed physical activity through the Active Practice Charter

As part of the All Together Active physical activity strategy for Cheshire and Merseyside, MSP provided support to dozens of GP Practices across the region to adopt the Active Practice Charter initiative.

A national collaboration between the RCGP and Sport England, the Active Practice Charter supports primary care organisations and GP Practices to use physical activity as a tool to improve physical activity levels and reduce sedentary behaviour for both staff and patients.  It also encourages primary care to be better linked to local assets and organisations that promote physical activity, such as parkrun and physical activity providers.

MSP was commissioned by the Cheshire & Merseyside Health & Care Partnership to provide capacity and wrap-around support to help GP Practices and Primary Care Networks to achieve the Active Practice Charter.  This included:

  • undertaking baseline assessments to understand the need and opportunities for each Practice
  • linking in with training to improve staff confidence and knowledge
  • mapping of local physical activity assets/organisations to build relationships and improve patient signposting
  • providing equipment so Practice staff can be more active and less sedentary through the working day
  • linkage to local organisations who could help provide longer-term support

Case study: Upton Group Practice

Upton Group Practice put a number of things in place to help them achieve the Active Practice Charter, including:

  • a baseline survey to understand current physical activity levels and opportunities
  • Champion training for colleagues to better support their colleagues to be more active
  • a suite of resources to be added to the Practice’s website and waiting area TV screens
  • utilising equipment (e.g. resistance bands) for staff to use on shift
  • standing meetings
  • one of their GP partners recording a 5 minute chair based exercise video, that was sent out to patients via the Accurix text messaging service as a prompter to stay active

“We are progressing with the staff wellbeing project linked to the Active Practice Charter, and we are advocating physical activity as much as we can.

A few colleagues are getting more active with support from Champions within the surgery e.g. PN is getting a group together to do a regular walk and Couch to 5k group, and I’ve recently shared ‘Movement in Modern life’ (NHS free 10 week trial) and we are all moving more using standing desks and walks at lunchtime.

One of the Partners has bought a ball to throw about at meetings, and we are trialling having standing meetings when we meet as a team.”

Dr Helen Kini, Partner at Upton Group Practice

Project learning

  • With primary care under pressure and struggling for capacity, wrap-around support provided by external organisations is key in helping to put things in place to meet the Active Practice Charter criteria
  • There are some simple quick-wins to help meet the criteria, such as creating a page dedicated to physical activity on the Practice’s website or including more information on waiting area TVs
  • Practice Learning Time sessions are a good opportunity to build small physical activity bursts as a regular reminder for staff; whether that’s going out for a short walk as a team or doing a fun team activity such as table tennis or sitting volleyball
  • Walking Consultations are being trialled by some Link Workers and Social Prescribers, as a good way for them and their patients to enjoy a gentle walk in the open air for those that have suitable mobility to
  • the separate parkrun practice initiative is a good way to build momentum, with some GP Practice staff going along in teams to help volunteer or join in; parkrun is suitable for walkers, and Merseyside is fortunate to have Southport-based GP Simon Tobin as a national parkrun practice ambassador

Further information

For further information about this project please contact Danny Woodworth (Partnership Manager for Health) via

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