Data shows drop in physical activity during Covid pandemic


Physical activity levels of Suffolk residents plummeted during the coronavirus pandemic, the latest figures have revealed.

The drop across the county between May 2020 and May 2021 highlighted the pandemic’s negative impact on physical health in Suffolk.

A number of factors, such as the closure of recreation facilities during closings and the increase in the number of people working from home, contributed to the decline, health officials said.

The latest Active Lives data, released by Sport England, showed Suffolk broadly aligned with the national trend of declining levels of physical activity among adults – particularly among groups affected by health inequalities or living in disadvantaged areas.

In Suffolk, the percentage of adults aged 16 and over now achieving 150 minutes or more of physical activity per week has fallen from 2.8% to 60.4%.

This figure is slightly lower than the national average of 60.9% after a decline of 1.9% nationwide.

The closure of gymnasiums and recreation facilities has been a major factor, it has been suggested.
– Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich saw the largest 10.4% drop in activity levels between May 2020 and May 2021, meaning just 50.3% of people were meeting government recommendations for physical activity.

Levels also fell in East Suffolk (down 4.4% to 60.4%), Babergh (down 2.9% to 63.4%) and Mid Suffolk (down 1, 4% to 63%).

West Suffolk was the only area in the county to show an increase in physical activity levels, increasing from 0.2% to 64.6%.

Gareth Davies, Director of Active Suffolk, said: “Active Suffolk’s vision is to improve health and well-being across Suffolk by inspiring everyone to be more active.

“Therefore, while we are always disappointed to see a reduction in physical activity levels, we recognize that the mandatory closure of recreational facilities and that a large number of the population is being asked to work from home are contributing factors. important to lowering physical activity levels. “

Underwater bottom of the Olympic swimming pool.

County swimming pools were forced to close during the lockdown
– Credit: Getty Images / iStockphoto

Active Lives data suggests that people living in the most disadvantaged areas or living with long-term conditions or disabilities have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Active Suffolk said it has facilitated the distribution of nearly £ 150,000 in funding from Sport England to tackle inequalities over the past year to enable more than 40 local organizations to start addressing these issues.

Among the organizations that will receive funding include Avenues East – which has secured more than £ 4,000 to enable them to purchase materials to host in-house activity sessions and train volunteers to deliver sustainable activities to their clients with disabilities. .

Suffolk County Council also launched its ‘Keep Moving Suffolk’ campaign in the county nine days after the first lockdown was announced in March 2020.

Mr. Davies added, “Now is the time to start improving health and well-being by increasing movement and reducing inactivity.

“We are proud of the work we have done over the past year to support clubs, charities and local organizations to secure funding and we hope to see the impact of this work manifest as the money is used to fight inequality.

“At this time, we are encouraging residents and communities of Suffolk to start increasing their level of physical activity and aim to undertake at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week.

“It doesn’t have to be going to the gym or participating in sporting events. There are many ways to be physically active and we encourage people to think about how they could make it part of their daily routine.


The Keep Moving Suffolk campaign was launched by Suffolk County Council in March 2020
– Credit: Keep Moving Suffolk

News of the declining activity levels comes after calls were made for the government to increase funding for public health.

The Health Foundation said UK councils received £ 3.3bn to run the services this year, £ 1bn less than in 2015-16, once inflation is taken into account into account.

In Suffolk, the per capita reduction in public health grant funding from 2015/16 to 2020/21 was £ 13 per person per year, while in Essex the reduction was £ 14.

The cut threatened the government’s upgrading program aimed at distributing wealth and opportunities more equitably, the Health Foundation added.

But the government said it was “absolutely engaged” in politics.

A government spokesperson added that the new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities would play a crucial role in the upgrade.

Details on future funding are expected to be announced later in the fall.

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