Research reveals pandemic's true impact on disabled people's activity levels

Research reveals pandemic's true impact on disabled people's activity levels

Posted: Mon, 08 Feb 2021 17:00

Research reveals pandemic's true impact on disabled people's activity levels

New research shows twice as many disabled people felt that coronavirus greatly reduced their ability to do sport or physical activity compared to non-disabled people.

Evidence shows disabled people's lives have been the hardest hit by COVID-19. Accounting for two-thirds of the deaths from coronavirus, this is a national crisis for public health and one that is being felt most sharply by disabled people. It has led to many disabled people, who count for one in five of the population, feeling more fearful and ignored.

The stark impact of this crisis on disabled people's attitudes towards sport and activity is clear in Activity Alliance's latest Annual Survey. This unique survey explores disabled and non-disabled people's activity and views to help grow insight and shape future opportunities.

Activity Alliance works with partners around the country including Northamptonshire Sport to reduce the fairness gap between disabled and non-disabled people's activity levels. Prior to the pandemic, collectively we were starting to close this gap, with more disabled people recorded being active than ever before. Yet, disabled people are still twice as likely as non-disabled people to be inactive.

This year's survey results show how the pandemic is not only widening existing inequalities for disabled people but creating new ones too.

Key findings include:

  • Disabled people felt that they do not have the opportunity to be as active as they want to, compared to non-disabled people (29% vs 44%).
  • Almost a quarter stated that they had not received enough information about how to be active during the pandemic (23% vs 13%).
  • Respondents said the lack of activity has led to both their physical and mental health being harder to manage. Feelings of loneliness and social isolation were frequently voiced.
  • A fear of contracting the virus, the impact on their health, a lack of space and support to be able to exercise safely at home, have become significant barriers for disabled people.

Barry Horne, Chief Executive at Activity Alliance, commented on the latest research:

"The benefits of being active are clear. It matters for everyone's physical and mental health and has enormous impact on our daily lives. So, it is never acceptable that disabled people should not reap these benefits too.

The Annual Survey follows Sport England launching their 10-year strategy, Uniting the Movement, which highlights their ambition to tackle inequalities, especially for inactive people. They pinpoint the need to invest in those who need it the most, with fairness and equity at the heart.

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive at Sport England said on this latest research:

"This past year has highlighted the challenges we face in making sure sport and physical activity is a normal part of life – for everyone."

"We take our responsibility in tackling these inequalities and supporting organisations like Activity Alliance extremely seriously and working to remove barriers and make activity more accessible for disabled people underpins our new strategy."

You can view the full Annual Disability and Activity Survey 2020 - 2021 report on the Activity Alliance website.

Tags: Disability Sport, Featured

Sport England Logo
Active Partnerships
Youth Sport Trust
Public Health Northamptonshire
Activity Alliance Logo