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Impact of the pandemic on disabled people's activity levels revealed

Posted: Wed, 03 Feb 2021 09:56

Impact of the pandemic on disabled people's activity levels revealed

Activity Alliance, the leading voice for disabled people in sport and activity, is calling on leaders to prioritise disabled people in sport and leisure as new research reveals the huge impact the pandemic has had on disabled people's activity levels.

The research released today raises serious concerns about the potential long-term damage on the nation's least active. The 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 to reduce the fairness gap between disabled and non-disabled people's activity levels. Prior to the pandemic, the gap was beginning to close, with more disabled people recorded being active than ever before. Despite this, 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.

Ellen Vanlint, Inclusion Officer at Active Norfolk, said "These results don't come as a surprise sadly, however they are certainly evidence that needs important consideration going forward for everyone involved in delivering physical activity. Through our On the Move project we are working with partners locally to gather further opinions of disabled people and ask them how we can help to safely encourage everyone back to exercise in Norfolk. This feedback will be vital in guiding our work across the next few months and beyond."

Read the full findings of the research at

Tags: Coronavirus, Disability, Sport, Survey