The International Society for Physical Activity and Health (ISPAH) Congress is the largest physical activity and health Congress in the world and the 7th ISPAH hosted in London, England on 15-17 October 2018 was the largest Congress to date.
The Congress was co-hosted by Public Health England (PHE), ISPAH and Sport England, with the World Health Organization (WHO) sponsoring the event and the Health Enhancing Physical Activity Network as lead supporter. International Scientific and Organising Committees brought together thoughts and insights from across the globe to ensure it was an international and representative occasion both in delivery and creation.
The London location represented a ‘homecoming’ for the physical activity and health community, 65 years after Jerry Morris’s landmark London Transport Workers Study that showed the link between everyday physical activity and individual health. Yet the tone of the Congress was very much looking forward rather than back, providing the first major international discussion on the WHO’s first Global Action Plan on Physical Activity and its implementation.
The congress addressed three key themes recognised as critical for addressing physical activity at local, national and international levels:
- Addressing inequalities within and through physical activity
- Evidence into practice to achieve population change
- Physical activity and the wider determinants of health
In line with previous ISPAH congresses and recognising the need for joined up solutions, there was a concerted and successful effort to bring together academics, practitioners and policy makers to challenge each other and discuss collaborative approaches for a joined-up approach to increase physical activity.
By all metrics the Congress was a success and exceeded its objectives, e.g.:
- Quantity of content – 146 oral presentations, 52 symposia orals, 263 oral e-poster presentations and 290 e-posters across the themes selected by the Scientific Committee
- Quality of content – e.g. 89% rated congress very good/good and 95% thought range of topics very good/good
- Representative participation – Over 1,100 delegates from 59 countries with increased representation across academia, policy and practice compared to previous Congresses
- Increasing understanding and collaboration – e.g. 83% delegates increased their understanding of how research, policy and practice can work together and 74% made new networks for collaboration
The Congress booklet is available online and much of the content is available on the Congress website and abstracts were published in a special supplement of the Journal of Physical Activity and Health.