Twice as many disabled people felt that coronavirus greatly reduced their ability to do sport or physical activity, compared to non-disabled people; Activity Alliance boss: “People not only are less active but feel that there are fewer opportunities to be active.”
Last Updated: 03/02/21 5:36pm
National charity Activity Alliance is urging decision makers to prioritise disabled people who have found their opportunities to exercise and play sport severely hampered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity has released their latest Annual Disability and Activity Survey, and the new research shows twice as many disabled people felt coronavirus greatly reduced their ability to do sport or physical activity, compared to non-disabled people.
Barry Horne, the chief executive of Activity Alliance, told Sky Sports: “The thing we were most pleased about ahead of the pandemic was that we were really making good progress.
“Disabled people’s activity is a lot less than the rest of the population, but we were making great inroads.
“What the pandemic has done is not just hit the numbers but, as our survey shows, people not only are less active but feel that there are fewer opportunities to be active.
“The impact of that on both their physical and mental health adds to the challenges of returning to that positive journey of activity.
“[The closure of] Gyms, swimming pools, a lot of the indoor offer that was important, where there is a good supportive environment – it has impacted on us all, but it has impacted on disabled people more.”
Horne is concerned disabled people find it hard to access information about how to keep active during the pandemic.
“There are several things that are a challenge and one of them is needing incentives to become active,” he said.
“There was less profile given to support for people with a range of impairments or long term health conditions
“We tried to work with partners to fill that gap – and we were promoting a lot of online resources to support activity at home.
“But, as the survey shows, we only managed to get through to about a quarter of disabled people.”
Before the pandemic, the number of disabled people who said they were physically inactive had fallen from 41 per cent to 34 per cent.
But that number is back down to 39 per cent and Horne says that is due at least in part to concern about catching Covid.
He said: “What they [survey respondents] are saying is they feel less confident about getting back out there and being active.
“People are saying they feel worried about that socially connected thing which, tragically, is the thing we have found is the best mechanism for getting people active – connecting people socially.
“Now, there is a fear of that.”