Positive upturn in adult physical activity levels in Suffolk expected in the next year.

Positive upturn in adult physical activity levels in Suffolk expected in the next year.

Posted: Mon, 09 May 2022 08:00

Positive upturn in adult physical activity levels in Suffolk expected in the next year.

The latest Active Lives data released by Sport England reports that just under 60% of all adults living in Suffolk are currently meeting the physical activity guidelines set by the Chief Medical Officer, which recommends 150 active minutes per week.

Precisely 59.8% of adults living in Suffolk are currently meeting the recommendations for physical activity levels and although this is just below the figure reported in the previous release, these latest findings are not too dissimilar to the national average which reports that 61.4% of over 16-year-olds in England are currently meeting the guidelines. Although the overall picture for Suffolk is slightly below the national average, the survey did highlight a significant increase in activity levels amongst some parts of the county, where activity levels had risen in some areas by as much as 4.4% since the last data release.

Since the data was gathered during the height of a COVID-19 lockdown, the overall results for Suffolk do not come as a surprise to experts working locally within the sport and physical activity sector. Other reports released by Sport England had already indicated that the impact on the physical activity levels of adults across the country would have been negatively affected by leisure centre closures, the colder winter months and the widening health inequalities which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Gareth Davies, Director at Active Suffolk said:

"Whilst the national reduction in physical activity levels is disappointing, it was not unexpected as we continue to see the impact of the pandemic. It was therefore heartening to see that areas of Suffolk have shown a significant increase in physical activity levels, and I urge our all our communities to follow this example.

With all COVID-19 restrictions now removed and the improved weather, I encourage people to take advantage of our beautiful green spaces and start to increase their own physical activity levels towards the recommended 150 minutes per week. For those who find it more difficult to access green spaces, the areas in which we live or even our homes are a great place to conduct physical activity whether that be a gentle walk or a spot of gardening. It's never too late to start introducing physical activity of any kind to our daily routines to support both our physical and mental health.

I also encourage those that are able to do so to consider Active Travel methods to mitigate rising fuel prices. Active Travel is an excellent way of increasing activity levels as well as reducing the harmful emissions."

Over the last 12 months, Active Suffolk have already taken steps to improve participation in physical activity since the COVID-19 restrictions eased. Working collaboratively with partners across the county, the Active Partnership have successfully distributed over £150,000 worth of Sport England funding through the Together Fund project, allowing over 40 organisations and charities to provide physical activity and sports provision for those from ethnically diverse backgrounds, those affected by long term conditions and disabilities or who are living in areas of deprivation.

In addition to individuals' barriers to physical activity, recent insight also reported that as much as 60% of the local physical activity and sports workforce left the sector during the pandemic. Active Suffolk have used this data and other insight to successfully secure over £170,000 which will enhance the workforce and upskill local employers working with those living with long term health conditions, further contributing towards the positive recovery of the sector and gradual rise in physical activity levels post pandemic.

Gareth Davies, Director at Active Suffolk went on to say:

"Despite the latest data release, we are hopeful that the collaborative work carried out and planned for the next year will have a positive impact on the physical activity levels of adults living in Suffolk. Active Suffolk will continue to support the outstanding work that all Suffolk Local Authorities and their physical activity partners do, to deliver a diverse range of physical activity and health and wellbeing opportunities for Suffolk communities.

"To bolster this excellent work, Active Suffolk will continue to work collaboratively with a wide-range of partners to provide opportunities for local communities to be more active and help reduce the negative impact of COVID-19 and the widening of the inequalities in this area.

The next Active Lives release will be April 2023 and if we continue to have no further COVID-19 restrictions we are confident we will begin to see a more positive picture across the county."

For more information regarding the latest Active Lives data release visit: https://www.activesuffolk.org/active-lives-survey

Tags: Active Lives, Activity levels, Adults, Pandemic, Physical Activity, Suffolk, Tackling Inequalities