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Covid’s Harmful Effect On Disabled People’s Activity Exposed By Survey

February 4, 2021

Covid-19 has reversed progress made in levels of activity among disabled people, according to a new report, amid concerns the gains may not be recovered because of the scarifying effects of the pandemic.

The observations come in the second Annual Disability and Activity Survey, which measures participation and attitudes towards physical activity among disabled people. Conducted by the disability charity Activity Alliance, it is seen as a companion to Sport England’s Active Lives study.Leading Paralympian says lockdown needs of disabled people ignoredRead more

The survey found that before the onset of Covid the number of disabled people who said they were physically inactive had fallen to 34%, down from 41% the year before. This corresponded with an 18% rise (from 40% to 58%) in the share of those who said they had “the opportunity to be as physically active as they want to be”. Following Covid, however, that number has fallen back to 39%, with the need to self-isolate the most common reason given, alongside a fear of contracting the virus.Advertisement

According to the chief executive of the Activity Alliance, Barry Horne, this change reflects the disproportionate impact Covid has had on disabled people. “Two thirds of people who have died from Covid are classed as disabled people,” Horne said. “What this survey shows and the Active Lives survey shows is that they are disproportionately impacted in terms of activity levels, too.

“There are external factors such as the lockdown but there’s also logistical factors in terms of being able to connect with the people who might help someone to exercise. You’ve also got the crisis within sports activity providers where they’re able to do a lot less.

“Finally the big thing that comes out is where disabled people are coming from. They’re more fearful. The proportion of disabled people who fear catching Covid is significantly higher than the wider population.”

With the leisure industry in financial crisis, Horne insists whatever provision remains post-Covid must be focused first on those who need it most. up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks.

“When I talk about inclusive practice it’s not just about the provision it’s about how you engage people’s psychological concerns and make it feel relevant for them”, he said.

“The resource will be what it is, the access to it is what matters. There are mechanisms through which it can happen but the reality is that this agenda has not been prioritised. We were starting to, however, and that’s my bit of optimism.”

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