Partner Profile: National Centre for Sport & Exercise Medicine, Sheffield

Dr Anna Lowe, Associate Professor at Sheffield Hallam University and Programme Manager for the National Centre for Sport & Exercise Medicine (NCSEM) in Sheffield talks about the benefits of being located on Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

Can you tell us briefly about your organisation and your role in that organisation?

The NCSEM is a collaboration between 14 organisations in Sheffield. It aims to increase the wellbeing of people in the city through physical activity, sport and exercise. As Programme Manager, I oversee all NCSEM related work including the co-location of NHS clinical services into three community leisure facilities and a number of large research projects, both of which feed into Move More.

Move More was developed as part of the London 2012 Olympic Legacy and is Sheffield’s whole system approach to increasing physical activity. It is a collective endeavour that involves everyone who has an interest in increasing physical activity in the city.  It aims to connect the work going on across the city and help people to work collaboratively toward a shared goal.

What positive benefits does being located on Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park bring to your organisation?

The Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre based at Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, is home to NCSEM and also houses a research hub.  Being located on the Park has many benefits including being close neighbours of world-class sports facilities such as the English Institute of Sport Sheffield.  But it has also enabled us to develop connections with local communities, something we intend to further develop over time.

Move More is a world-first new model for health services. By moving clinical appointments out of hospitals and doctors’ surgeries and into specially designed community leisure centres, we’ve played a key role in helping thousands of people to become more active — and allowing NHS staff to work more closely together.

What is your post-pandemic vision for your organisation and how do you think being located on the Park will help you to deliver that?

Post-pandemic I hope that NCSEM will continue to drive change that makes it easier for everyone in Sheffield to be active.  The three Move More centres deliver around 100,000 NHS appointments a year. And each year, more than 1,000 people are referred for physical activity support — significantly more than NHS facilities in traditional settings.

What’s more, the evidence shows that those people referred for physical activity are much more likely to sustain that activity, leading to better health outcomes.

The pandemic gave us all a renewed sense of the importance of health, and physical activity has a key role to play in creating healthy, resilient communities in Sheffield.

The Park aims to deliver whole population health and wellbeing change as well as helping to drive the economic regeneration of Sheffield and the wider city region. Do you think the Park is delivering a real Olympic Legacy and why?

I do believe that translating the energy around elite sport into tangible benefits across the spectrum of the population is incredibly important and that Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park is well positioned to lead on this.  It has the potential to catalyse change in many areas of physical activity and health from grass roots sport through to active travel.  The close connection between the many stakeholders who share this ambition is critical in maximising impact.