Sport England warns that increasing activity levels will require “collective effort” | Sports England
Efforts to improve the nation’s activity level must move away from the burden of the individual, Sport England has warned, as the panel’s authoritative annual study has shown that the pandemic has hit those hardest at those who are already struggling the most to move.
The Active Lives study, based on a representative survey of 175,000 people, found that between May 2020 and May 2021, only 45% of people with disabilities were active. The corresponding number among Asians (excluding Chinese) was 48%, while only 52% of blacks were active. All of these numbers had declined compared to the previous year.
Sport England’s Executive Director of Insight, Lisa O’Keefe, who led the study, said the annual declines weren’t surprising given the months-long recreation industry shutdown and fears over the transmission of Covid-19. However, the decline in activity has only exacerbated existing inequalities. The study found that the least affluent socioeconomic groups in English society are now less active than they were when the survey began in 2016, the only economic group to see a decline, while the youngest population group recorded in the adult survey – ages 16 to 34 – have seen a 5% decrease in activity over the past five years.
“Of course, exercise and activity have an impact on your physical well-being,” said O’Keefe. “But this report [shows a] on the level of happiness, the increase in fear too. We know exercise and physical activity play a role, but in general we know that every pound of community sport invested in community sports generates £ 4 for the economy. In terms of our recovery [from the pandemic] Exercise and physical activity really need to be the focus for so many different reasons, and we really need to focus on where the effects have been greatest. “
Sport England is a “non-divisional public entity” funded by the DCMS and the National Lottery. That year she launched a 10-year strategy, Uniting the Movement, with the guiding principle: “People who benefit most from being active have the least chance to participate.”
O’Keefe said the results of the Active Lives survey reinforce the need for structural change. “We know here that we have focused our attention on the individual for too long: What does the individual need to change to be more active?” She said. “We say this has to be a collaborative effort, that we really have to work together to get to a place where we can create the right environment, where people have the best opportunities to be active on a regular basis. It’s a somewhat superficial answer, but we really need everyone. “
The study’s top-line numbers found that just over six in ten adults (27.8 million) achieved more than 150 minutes of activity per week, with activity defined as 10 minutes of moderate-intensity walking. That was 700,000 (-1.9%) fewer than in the previous year. Meanwhile, 27.5% of people (12.5 million) were doing less than an average of 30 minutes a week, an increase of 1 million people over the previous year.
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Active Lives also found that the number of people using gyms and swimming pools had collapsed, with the total number of gym goers in May 2021 being less than half the number recorded in May 2019. In the meantime, swimming had only 700,000 users compared to 4.8 million in 2019. The number of people walking was a rare ray of hope: In May 2021, 3.6 million more people said they walked than in 2019.
Tim Hollingsworth, General Manager of Sport England added: “There is no panacea for a more active nation. We worked with the government to provide nearly £ 1 billion in funding to the sports and exercise sectors during the coronavirus, and we will build on that. But it’s not just about financing, we are investing both human and financial resources. These results build on our knowledge, and although the challenge is great, with our Uniting the Movement strategy we are well positioned to accept them. “