Less than 3 in 10 disabled people feel encouraged to return to physical activity

Activity Alliance have released their latest Annual Disability and Activity Survey report.

It shows slow progress in engaging more disabled people after the COVID-19 pandemic. In the latest survey, over 1800 people took part, exposing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The survey highlights how greater effort is needed now to tackle inequalities that affect disabled people, so no one feels forgotten.

What is the Annual Disability and Activity Survey?

The Annual Disability and Activity Survey is a nationally representative questionnaire released by Activity Alliance (the national charity and leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity). It tracks changes in experience and perceptions of physical activity.

In the latest survey, 941 disabled people (anyone with a long-term health condition, impairment or illness which effects normal daily activities) and 885 non-disabled people took part.

This report also provides greater detail on issues of importance to disabled people, and intends to complement the bi-annual Adult Active Lives Survey released by Sport England.

78% of disabled people say their impairment stops them being active.

The results show a worrying increase in inequalities between those living with disabilities and those without. The pandemic has led to an increase in barriers being put up for disabled people, relating to health and finance.

“Whenever I am thinking about it or taking part in activity, the first thing I am going to consider is, am I going to enjoy it? This is followed by can I physically get there? And also how much is it going to cost?”

Paul, Research Participant (Activity Alliance)

More disabled people say financial concerns prevents them from being active people compared to 2020 (22% in comparison to the previous 14%). This is in line with nationwide concerns over the cost of living, however identifies a concerning trend which needs to be addressed to prevent the number from increasing.

In total, the survey showed that an overwhelming 78% of disabled people say their impairment stops them from being active.

“We cannot allow our nation to ignore and exclude a large proportion of society.”

Sam Orde, Chair at Activity Alliance, commented on the latest report:

“This year’s Survey highlights the true impact of the pandemic on disabled people and the changes required so nobody feels forgotten. We appreciate many providers and decision makers faced enormous challenges during the pandemic. But we are almost a year from restrictions being lifted, and still hearing too many negative experiences from disabled people.

“We must double our efforts and prioritise disabled people in the recovery. Whether this is through opportunities, strategy, or investment, we need leaders to play their part and drive change through their work.

“Many of the findings show negative changes and stark differences between disabled and non-disabled people. We have listened to disabled people and urge decision makers to do the same. Some barriers that have existed for a long time have been exasperated during this crisis. We cannot allow our nation to ignore and exclude a large proportion of society.”

The recommendations outline the changes leaders, commissioners and organisations must make urgently to achieve greater fairness in sport and activity. They are split into four key themes:

  • ‘Involve me as we recover from the pandemic
  • ‘Support me to feel like being active is for someone like me’
  • ‘Your workforce can make it a better experience for me’
  • ‘Involve the health professionals I trust the most’

Read the full report

The Annual Disability and Activity Survey report is available to view and also download on Activity Alliance’s website.