On 26th October 2022, County Durham Sport and Durham University’s Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences co-hosted an event which attracted over 63 delegates from across the country. Brought together by a passion for physical activity, we welcomed representatives from universities, Durham County Council, community organisations, charities, and Sport England. We enjoyed a keynote speech from Adam Conant, Head of Sport at the Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport and a series of interactive workshops.
Here are the topics we discussed in the workshops…
How do we work towards healthy weight?
Across the UK, more and more of us are classified as overweight or obese. There are so many factors contributing to this, including diet, physical activity, and genetics. But the causes of overweight and obesity go far beyond individuals. The way our towns are designed affects how easy is it to be active. The ease of ordering takeaway food gives us quick access to unhealthy options. The mental and financial stresses of life (including the pandemic and cost of living crisis) make it harder to make healthy choices.
What can we do about this? Organisations and individuals from all corners of the local system need to work together. From transport, retail, and housing, to parks, education, and healthcare.
How can we stay active as we get older?
We are all ageing. From birth, throughout our lives. At different stages in life, we experience different challenges with our health and physical activity. We explored two challenges: winter weather, and menopause.
Many of us struggle to stay active during the cold, dark winter months. And as we get older, we also tend to be less active overall. But does it have to be this way? We heard how walking groups in East Durham help older people stay active all year round – and even celebrate the weather as an invigorating benefit of the winter season.
There has recently been a positive surge in interest and openness on this topic in the media. But there is more work to do. Especially, to understand how menopause can affect women’s physical activity. The impacts of menopause can be physical (hot flushes, changes in bone density, fatigue), mental (anxiety, stress, brain-fog), but also social (stigma around aging and taboo around women’s health). With more research – and more open conversation – we can help more people understand menopause and help more women be active in ways that work for them.
Thinking differently about disability
In County Durham, just 33% of disabled people and those with limiting illnesses are doing enough physical activity to benefit their health (Active Lives, 2020-12). There are many different reasons why disabled people might find it more difficult to be as active as they’d like.
What if the way society views disability is preventing people from getting active? Instead of focusing on what disabled people cannot do, we need to think about what we can do to make physical activity more inclusive and accessible.
What is co-production?
We might all agree that working closely with communities is important if we are to help everyone in our society to be active. We need to work together to create shared solutions to problems like inactivity. But there are so many different versions of co-production! This workshop went back to basics, discussing examples of co-production and its benefits.
Join the conversation
Are you passionate about tackling inequalities in physical activity? Are you working to make being active an easy choice? We would love to hear from you. Get in touch at email@example.com and access our workshop resources and contacts.