“Activity levels in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough remained stable across the last year”

The latest Active Lives Adult Survey shows that, between mid-May 2019 and mid-May 2020, just over six in 10 adults across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough achieved enough physical activity across the week to benefit their health. That is, at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. 

Although an increase of 3,000 more adults age 16+ more active compared with last year (and 20,000 more people more active since 2015/16 when the Active Lives Survey started), statistically this is classed as no change. 

A quarter of the adult population of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough remains inactive – those doing fewer than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week – a proportion that has not changed significantly since baseline (2015/16). 

However, activity levels in England were increasing until measures to counter the coronavirus pandemic were introduced in mid-March, which cancelled out gains made in the first 10 months of the year, despite an increase in cycling for leisure, running outside and exercising at home. Swimming, team sports and racket sports all recorded decreases across the 12 months, suffering during lockdown when access to facilities and organised sport was stopped. Active travel reduced dramatically as people were asked to work from home where possible. This demonstrates the extent to which people’s lives were disrupted and why, although classed as no change, there were 9,000 more adults inactive compared with a year ago. 

Although more detailed results for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough are not yet available, national results show that: 

  • there continues to be a positive association between activity levels and mental wellbeing – some activity is good, more is better 
  • those who are active are more likely to keep trying if something is difficult, and more likely to achieve goals, than those who are less active – and lockdown didn’t affect this 
  • those who are active feel they can trust people in their area more than those who are inactive – and lockdown didn’t affect this 
  • levels of happiness and anxiety didn’t change this year compared to last year – but people were less happy and more anxious as a result of the pandemic 
  • those who are active or fairly active are less likely to feel lonely than those who are inactive with the exception of those with a disability or long-term health condition who are equally likely to be lonely whether they are active or not 

However, inequalities remain and the least active are: 

  • Women, those from lower socioeconomic groups, older age groups, those with a disability or long-term health condition (LTHC), and BAME groups (in particular Asian (excl. Chinese) and Black backgrounds) 

The pandemic has widened some of these inequalities and as such the gap between lower and higher social groups, ethnic groups and those with a disability or LTHC all widened in the last two months of the survey from mid-March to mid-May. And although older age groups are still least active, the 16-34 age group was hit hardest by the pandemic. These highlight the importance of organised sport and access to facilities for specific groups, and that some groups found it more difficult to adapt to lockdown than others. Interestingly, women found it easier than men to adapt – they perceived opportunities to still exist, whereas men didn’t. 

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive at Sport England, says it “highlights the challenges this year has brought to those groups who already find it harder than most to be active…… reminding us of the importance of educational settings, community leisure facilities and team sports that underpin access to activity for so many people across England”. 

Living Sport, working with partners across the county, adapted their programmes during lockdown in a bid to continue supporting and inspiring people to be more physically active for the benefit of their physical and mental health. 

Simon Fairhall, Chief Executive of Living Sport, added: “To help address this challenge in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, we are currently distributing a £100k Tackling Inequalities Fund from Sport England. This is already benefitting those that need it most, working with new partners and narrowing the gaps that the lockdown has inflated”. 

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