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Introduction – Tanni Grey-Thompson

Just a few generations ago, physical activity was an integral part of daily life. In the name of progress, we’ve now chipped away at it so thoroughly that physical inactivity actually seems normal. The economic costs are unacceptable; the human costs are unforgiveable.

Recent estimates say the costs of physical inactivity globally could be conservatively estimated as $145•2 billion per year. In 2013 alone, physical inactivity was responsible for 13•4 million Daily Adjusted Life Years (DALY) worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation, physical inactivity is the fourth largest cause of premature mortality globally.
Together, we sit at the vanguard of a global movement to turn the tide of physical inactivity. Across the globe, there is a growing coalition of organisations who wish to do something to make a change.

As passionate proponents of physical activity, we know that if our products and services available and embraced ubiquitously across the globe, the lives of billions would be enriched, health systems saved, and economies reinvigorated. The battle to re-embed activity into daily life is one of our greatest global challenges, in line with the ambition to eradicate global disease and inequality. It is another side of the same coin.

The science is clear. The debate is over. Urgent priority must be given to dramatically increase the world’s commitment to physical activity. The impacts of what has become a widespread physical inactivity epidemic affect everyone in every nation. To put solutions into practice at scale, we must align on what needs to be done and how. We need a brigade of leaders across the globe, ready to take this fight forward.

The Global Active Leaders Programme marks the start of conscious decision to raise our game, Every single person invited to participate the Global Active Leaders Programme is a leader in their own right, here and now, today. They are running fantastic organisations, delivering outstanding results, to their customers, shareholders and staff. Only those who recognise that this is not enough will answer this call to join us on this new mission.

I know from my days in elite sport that resting on your laurels is not an option. I finished my career with 11 Paralympic gold medals, 4 silvers and 1 bronze; 5 gold, 4 silver and 3 bronze medals at World Championships; and, six wins of the London Marathon. I was lucky enough to amass 30 World Records on the track. This was over a 14-year period. I was constantly driven by a realisation that the fittest and fastest today will be overtaken unless they commit to constantly stretching themselves.

Creating time to analyse where we are today. Selfishly providing the space to think through what is hidden by the pressures of the day to day routine. And time to dislocate our ambitions, to elevate our goals even further.

Since retiring from elite sport, I have realised that this maxim is as true in business and politics as it was on the track. I have seen this through my time on the Board of Transport for London, as a cross-bench member of the UK House of Lords and in getting to know the amazing businesses driving the activity movement as chair of ukactive.

That is why I am delighted to invite you to join me in Madrid for the Global Active Leaders Pro- gramme. In a city where I have fond memories, I invite you to join us on a conscious decision to take our work to create a movement for physical activity onto a global scale.

I look forward to continuously learning alongside you