Active Lives

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Overall Picture

Relatively high levels of activity and low levels of inactivity continue to protect the health of much the adult population of CIOS, however, people are less active than they were a year ago and around a third (c164,300) are still not meeting national guidelines for good health.

Impact of the pandemic

Where levels of activity were increasing in CIOS, the effects of lockdown has impacted negatively on those who were previously active and this trend has reversed. Compared to pre-pandemic levels as many as 48,000 people may have become less active during the pandemic wiping out all gains made since 2016. Data from the previous period would suggest this is being driven by healthy older adults particularly those aged 55-74yrs slipping into inactivity with a greater drop in levels for females in particular.

Many of the effects are in line with national trends. For example, the temporary closure of facilities resulted in falling participation in swimming, fitness classes/yoga and badminton/table tennis, however, in other ways it would appear that CIOS has been harder hit by lockdown conditions. Despite a national trend for switching towards alternative activities this has not totally played out in CIOS. Most notably, whilst overall levels of cycling and cycling for leisure increased in England and the SW on pre-pandemic levels these same measures showed a decrease in Cornwall. Furthermore, the impact of school closure and working from home conditions has led to a reduction in walking for travel that is consistent with national results but at much greater levels with participation levels reducing by half.

In a more positive way CIOS also appears to be bucking national trends with regard to some inequalities. Where national data shows a negative and disproportionate effect of the pandemic on activity levels of people with a disability/long term health condition, this group have shown a reduction in inactivity by more than 20%, with a 10% increase in numbers meeting the CMO guidelines.

  • It remains to be seen how activity habits and behaviours are responding now that restrictions are lifted and opportunities to be active have returned. National data provides some insight and showed an overall bounce back (4.4%) in activity levels for the period March-May 2020 following full lockdown and as restrictions lifted. This recovery appears to be led predominantly by younger adults (16-34yrs) and males with older adults and those with disabilities/long term health conditions least likely to return to activity quickly. 
  • Whilst most activities remain below pre-pandemic levels many are showing some signs of early recovery. Facility dependent activities (swim, gym, fitness classes) are returning in a less pronounced way than others, however, the recent leisure review survey suggests a high proportion of these participants are likely to return as facilities re-open. This is supported by national data that shows in general 2/3 of adults who took part in activity pre-pandemic intend to return and those who took part in facility dependent activities show the highest intention to return.