Leo Capella provides his take on the third report from Sport England’s biannual Active Lives Survey. This survey is about people across England doing physical activity from November 2016 to November 2017 and had 200,000 people who responded to it.
These results reported no change in the activity levels of people with disabilities. For instance 43% of people with disabilities are inactive (getting less than 30 minutes moderate to intense physical activity per week) as opposed to 21% of people without disabilities. This statistic fits in with the wider message of the report: No change in the level of activity of adults across England, whether they have disabilities or not.
It could be worse I suppose.
Although the Active Lives Survey is a relatively new one in that its initial results were only released last year there was no fall in the amount of people with disabilities being active. Had there been one it would have flown in the face of the huge amount of activity around disabled people in sport going on across England. In fact over my first three weeks in post I’ve been impressed by just how much activity across England is going on either to help more people with disabilities become more physically active or sports events. This includes the National Junior Para-Swimming Championships that were held on the 17th and 18th of April or an upcoming masterclass in wheelchair ballroom dancing. So there are positives in the report.
However equally the position of people with disabilities could be better though. The gap in activity between people with one impairment and those with none is currently 13% with the gap in inactivity being 11%. And that gap in inactivity increases the more disabilities a person has. So aside from being on the autistic spectrum I’ve got tinnitus in my right ear which means instead of being part of a group with 33% inactivity I’m part of one with 42% percent level of inactivity which isn’t good. And the inactivity rate rises even higher with three impairments.
So there’s work to be done because there’s a positive case for more people becoming physically active: The more physical activity you do the more mentally healthy you are. This is shown by a question in the same survey where people were asked how strongly they agreed to “whether they are satisfied with their life nowadays”. People whether disabled or not who classed as active had an average score of 7.2, compared to people who were fairly in active who had a slightly lower average of 7.0 and people who were classified in active scored a further 0.5 point less meaning they were less mentally healthy.
To conclude we should think of the latest results from the Active Lives Survey as a solid platform to increase levels of participation. Instead of treating them as a case of that time honoured adage: no news is good news.
The fourth Active Lives Survey report will be released in October this year. Hopefully by then we can celebrate an increase in activity levels for people with disabilities instead of just continuing to acknowledge the same increasingly old figure.