Workers at Sportscotland are failing to reach minimum exercise targets


ALMOST two thirds of staff at the government body responsible for promoting sport in Scotland do not meet their own targets for exercise.

Workers at Sportscotland appear to be a bunch of couch potatoes with 60% admitting they fail to reach the minimum exercise target of 30 minutes five times a week.

And over 12% of staff at the £50m-a-year quango own up to barely or never exercising at all.

Part of Sportscotland's role is to tackle the growing obesity problem in Scotland


Workers have told bosses at Sportscotland they would do more physical exercise – if extra showers were installed in offices.

The body has been condemned over the deskbound lifestyles of most of its staff and been told workers must practise what they preach to other Scots.

Sportscotland, which has its headquarters in Glasgow, boasts on its Twitter account that it provides “expertise to help Scotland to be a world-class sporting country”.

On its website, it declares: “Ultimately, we see a Scotland where sport is a way of life.”

But asked under freedom of information laws to reveal details about the commitment to exercise of its own 152-strong workforce, a different picture emerges.

Sportscotland revealed that staff had recently received a questionnaire which asked: “Adults should accumulate at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on at least five days a week.  How often do you achieve this?”

Despite the nature of their work, just 41.6% of staff claimed to meet or exceed that target.

One in eight admitted they did barely any exercise. Those who exercised less than once a month made up 5.4% while 6.7% said they exercised more than once a month but less than once  a week.

Remaining workers claimed they managed to exercise between once and four times a week, still short of the minimum target.

Sportscotland staff were also asked what would make them more physically active.

Just over 55% said shower and changing facilities would encourage to come out from behind their desks.

Almost 32% said they might break a sweat if they were given incentives for using bicycles.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Jackson Carlaw said the sporting body needed to up its game in order to be taken seriously as a voice for healthy living.

He said: “A bit like Alex Salmond, who thinks patting himself on the back constitutes physical exercise, it seems that Sportscotland staff equally think talking about it does too.

“While exhorting others to achieve their 30 minutes a day exercise target some two thirds of staff in this government sponsored organisation does not bother to practise what they preach.

“If Sport Scotland means to be taken as seriously and frankly as Scotland’s obesity crisis demands, it really needs to set a leading example to others of what is possible not make tired excuses for under performance.”

Eben Wilson of campaign group TaxpayerScotland said the findings of the survey show that the aims of the sporting body are “mixed and muddled”.

He said: “Does this not tell us something about these quangos? Are they really able to change our behaviour using taxpayers’ money when they can’t change the behaviour of their own staff?

“Their objectives are mixed and muddled. It sounds as if their objectives have just been plucked out the air in a rather arbitrary fashion.

“They just keep expanding and finding more to do for themselves.

“Very often it’s a case of the middle classes shouting at the poorer classes.

“Sportscotland just proselytises. But it doesn’t practice what it preaches.”

Between 1995 and 2010 the proportion of Scottish adults aged 16-64 who were overweight or obese (a BMI of 25 or more) increased from 52.4% to 63.3%.

Sportscotland, which distributes Scottish Government and lottery cash, recently came under fire for alleged lack of transparency over its awards.

Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone complained at the time: “There is no transparency in the way that public money is being allocated by Sportscotland and with the Commonwealth Games just two years away, this is the last chance to get it right.”

A Sportscotland spokesman  defended the organisation by pointing out that their figure for minimum exercise is almost 3% better than the general population.

He said: “Sportscotland staff are leading a more active lifestyle than the people of Scotland overall. 41.6 per cent of staff meet the recommended physical activity levels, compared to a national average of 39 per cent.”