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The Government, together with the health and sports sectors, is focusing on tackling issues including physical inactivity, obesity and mental health and dance has much to contribute to improving the health of the nation.

Making the case for dance in health and wellbeing is important if we are to raise the profile of dance and how it can improve the health and wellbeing. Download the One-minute guide to dance and health and share with partners.


Tackling inactivity through dance


Physical inactivity contributes to 1 in 10 deaths in the UK, which is equal to smoking and costs the UK economy £8.7 billion a year in health costs and lost productivity. It is the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in the UK and a major public health priority.

Public Health England’s, Everybody Active Everyday has set out a framework for action and Local Authorities, NHS and wider partners are working together to tackle inactivity. The Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s latest strategy Sporting Future: A new strategy for an active nation is focused on getting inactive people active to improve health and social outcomes.


It has defined physical activity as: sports, dance, walking and cycling and this represents a major opportunity for the dance sector to contribute to this national priority.


The five outcomes in the new DCMS Sporting Future strategy are:

  1. Physical wellbeing

  2. Mental wellbeing

  3. Individual development

  4. Social and community development

  5. Economic development

Sport England has now also widened its remit to include: sports, dance, walking and cycling for leisure. Sport England has £245 million of funding allocated to tackle inactivity and this is outlined in its Sport England Strategy: Towards an Active Nation

Sport England will widen its remit to include:

  • Children aged 5 years upwards (previously 14 years upwards)

  • A major focus now on under represented groups and getting the most inactive groups active. These are women and girls, disadvantaged communities, people living with disabilities and older people.

  • Focus on meeting social outcomes through active recreation; improving health and wellbeing, individual development and social cohesion

The strategy claims:

“Sport England will fund wider forms of walking for leisure and dance than we do today by investing in what is most appealing to our target audiences, and will deliver on the outcomes. We will not displace existing funding (e.g. from Arts Council England) and will not intervene where there is already a strong commercial offer.”


This is an exciting opportunity for participatory dance that is ideal to meet multiple outcomes. It represents a significant source of funding for the dance sector, however it will need to evidence meeting health and social outcomes and engaging inactive and underrepresented groups.

Organisations, artists and practitioners will benefit from strong partnerships with the sports, health and social care sectors.  Also building links with sports partners at a local and regional level will mean dance can be better embedded in broader physical activity programmes.

More information on commissioning dance to improve health and wellbeing is available on the Public Health England National Obesity Observatory 

Images from top to bottom Copyright Dancing in Time at Yorkshire Dance, One Dance UK, DAZL and Dance Well at Akademi

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