Sport England’s recent study on how Coronavirus impacted the lives of active adults in the country revealed that a majority managed to maintain their habits despite the challenges of the pandemic.
According to the Active Lives Adult Survey, the first eight months of Covid-19 restrictions, as well as the storms that had a huge impact on outdoor activity in early 2020, also led to a worrying increase in the number of people who were inactive – doing less than 30 minutes of activity a week or nothing at all.
The findings also show how people’s relationship with sport and physical activity changed across the various phases of Covid-19 restrictions – who returned to activity once restrictions eased, and who didn’t.
How People Reacted
Restrictions designed to combat the spread of coronavirus had a profound impact on the types of activities – and the form they could take – that were available between mid-March and mid-November.
Whilst the restrictions severely limited the ability to take part in some activities such as walking for travel (-4.2m over the 12 months in those reporting taking part at least twice in the last 28 days), swimming (-1.8m) and team sports (-940k), we can also see the significant attempts of the population to find alternatives through increases in activities like walking for leisure (+1.3m), running (+470k) and cycling for leisure and sport (+1.2m).
Although at home exercise was encouraged, and the numbers of people working out at home increased significantly, it was not enough to offset the lost gym environment (-1.9m) and drop in those taking part in team sports (-940k).
How Sport England Helped
Throughout the pandemic, Sport England supported the sport and physical activity sector by encouraging consumers through campaigns to remain active.
Join the Movement, a £3.5m National Lottery-funded and award-winning campaign launched two weeks after the first Covid-19 restrictions to help people to stay active during the pandemic, played a key role in helping to motivate and provide guidance on how to find free, accessible activities.
The campaign reached 37 million people between April and June and 45% of adults say they recognise the campaign, almost half (47%) of whom increased their physical activity level or effort as a result of seeing it.
They also supported the sector financially with over £230m of funding, including the Community Emergency Fund and various Return to Play funding options that are helping keep sports clubs and activity providers going.
Their investment also includes a £20m Tackling Inequalities Fund that’s designed to help specific groups disproportionately impacted by the restrictions.
During the 2020-21 financial year Sport England released more than £414m of grant funding, a 60% increase on the previous year, in 13,170 individual grant payments.
As of today, they have also updated their Return to Play Fund’s criteria to encourage more applications from groups and clubs that support people aged over 70 and from the 16-34 age group.
In addition to funding, they have offered the sector advice and practical resources, while working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to ensure the guidance as to what was and wasn’t allowed at different stages was communicated effectively to activity providers as well as the general public.
This work supported the return of sport as one of the government’s key priorities as restrictions eased.
Photo 1 Caption: Sport England’s recent study on how Coronavirus impacted the lives of active adults in the country revealed that a majority managed to maintain their habits despite the challenges of the pandemic. Photo: Sport England website
Article Source: sportengland.org