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The sports and leisure industry suffered greatly over the pandemic period. Now that we are hopefully recovering from this period, we look at activity levels and how the UK is adjusting to becoming physically active after a lull in typical activity participation.
A lot of surveys by different bodies, associations and clubs were undertaken during this unprecedented period, but we are going to focus on the ones undertaken by Sports England. They commissioned a leading market research consultancy to undertake an ongoing poll of physical activity over the period of the pandemic.
It collected data in type, duration, frequency and intensity of specific activities and involved just over 2,000 people over 16 years of age. Evenly spread over different representations of age, gender, region, social grade and those with and without children. This was then repeated over 19 different stages between 2020 and the present day.
The last interviews were in July, not long after restrictions were lifted and show a promising increase in activity, with some areas that still require assistance in improving. We can see that the use of indoor sport and leisure facilities, such as gyms, exercise classes, fitness studios, have improved by 11% since the last interviews and the use of outdoor settings have gone up by 9%.
There is still hesitation to go back to normal activity levels though, with 40% of interviewees still worried about leaving home to exercise and be active. This is a similar level to this time last year but down from January this year, which showed 51% not being keen to utilise facilities.
Concerns over COVID are also represented in results, with 83% of indoor gym and fitness centre users and 78% of outdoor exercise class participants still concerned. Suggesting facilities should continue to implement mask wearing, one-way systems, social distancing and sanitation stations.
Results also show that a third of people over the age of 55 do no physical activity over a typical week and only 61% of all interviewees are comfortable enough to use indoor facilities. Other than gyms, fitness classes and swimming pools these levels drop even lower for 16-34 year olds, those in lower socio-economic groups, people with mental health conditions or illnesses and those without access to private outdoor space.
Not all results show a hesitation to undertake physical activity, 49% of survey respondents with children under 16 years of age have said that their children are more active than this time last year and 20% saying less active. That is in comparison to January when figures were 26% active and 44% less active.
Industry leading bodies have started to use this data and other sources to implement helpful advice and resources for individuals and businesses, in the wake of change and to assist in not only market confidence but to continue to instil people need to keep active. Also, to help with structuring the new normal and to assisting in adjusting, after what has been a dormant period for sports and leisure.