Site Logo
Inequality in physical activity needs urgent action, says research

Urgent action is needed to address “stark inequalities” in physical activity across the country, according to new Public Health England guidance written by University of Derby academics.

The researchers have also warned that the pandemic and a rise in obesity has also exacerbated health differences, and steps must now be taken by public bodies responsible for commissioning, designing, and delivering opportunities for participation.

In their PHE-funded report, entitled ‘Understanding and Addressing Inequalities in Physical Activity’, the authors – Jessica Jackson, Dr Clare Roscoe and Dr Niamh Mourton – recommend that public bodies which commission physical activity need to understand the complexity between the many different groups with protected characteristics - such as age, sex or ethnic group - within their local communities in order to increase activity, and to improve health and wellbeing.

Their study analysed evidence gathered from Sport England’s Active Lives Survey from 2015-2019, which had already revealed levels of inactivity rising among different community groups. They then identified, synthesised, and analysed the body of evidence which have implemented interventions which aim to engage communities with protected characteristic groups in a variety of physical activities.

The academic team also conducted qualitative study with practitioners currently delivering physical activity to communities with protected characteristics.

The recommendations include:

  • Urgent action to ensure the physical activity workforce is diversely represented.
  • Finding solutions in partnership with communities so that individuals can take ownership of what is being delivered.
  • Opportunities for role models and peer to peer influencing.
  • Understanding demographic data to ensure intervention design is targeted and needs driven.
  • A range of accessible communication tools.
  • Responsibility among all sectors to promote and encourage physical activity.

 “What is clear from the research is a need for more meaningful consultation with communities to ensure what is being delivered is what is appropriate,” said Dr Roscoe, senior lecturer in physical activity, exercise and health at the university.

“More diverse programmes of physical activity, greater flexibility to adapt to individual needs, appropriate methods of engagement and a better understanding of the social context of individuals’ lives are all vital.

“Ultimately, the focus of designing, delivering and commissioning activity should always be on achieving outcomes which reduce inequalities.”

Related Stories
the physical activity facilities forum goes VIRTUAL
We will be hosting our annual physical activity facilities forum this year virtually due to COVID restrictions. New date of 18-19 November. The forum will take place over two mornings 9.30-12.30 and will be a mix of seminars; networking in lounge area and the opportunity of having online pre-selected meetings with suppliers and project delegates using an exclusively developed platform. The platform is really interactive and unique to the leisure industry. We look forward to getting back to meetings again
ukactive launches the Great British Week of Sport
ukactive has launched the first edition of the Great British Week of Sport, celebrating the power that sport and activity has on physical, mental and social wellbeing.
Injecting the magic of theme parks into leisure facility design
Wales’ longest zip wire safari, a double zip wire and an adventure zone with a large splash pad are some of the attractions proposed for Margam Country Park.
Schools plays key role in improving children’s activity
The reopening of schools presents a hugely important moment to help the nation’s children to increase how much sport and physical activity they are doing, says Sport England.
Parkrun set to return in England at the end of October
The mass-participation event plans to resume its parkrun events in England towards the end of October after receiving the green light from government.

Login / Sign up