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Research launched to explore the impact of Covid-19 on physical activity in the North East

by | Jan 22, 2021 | News

Three local Active Partnerships have joined forces with Teesside University to learn more about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected physical activity.

In April 2020, Tees Valley Sport worked closely with academics at Teesside University to launch a survey to understand physical activity levels across the North East and the barriers to being physically active during the first lockdown of the pandemic. The survey results were shared with County Durham Sport and Rise and provide insight into the lockdown experience of local people.

Findings in County Durham:

  • During the first lockdown, people in County Durham adapted to find ways of being active both outdoors and at home.
  • Walking for leisure was already popular in County Durham before the pandemic. But with team sports and leisure venues off-limits, walking saw a surge in popularity as people were allowed out of their home once a day for exercise.
  • Walking, running and cycling were the top 3 most popular forms of activity.
  • For many families, this was a positive opportunity to spend more gadget-free time together.
  • Online platforms were also popular for exercise at home. Many people said that they could see themselves continuing to use online platforms for exercise after Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.
  • For others, anxieties about safety, coming into contact with others, and low motivation made physical activity a challenge – meaning that many people were less physically active than usual during this difficult time.

What this means for County Durham Sport:

  • Promoting walking as an accessible and green activity can help us become a healthier, happier county.
  • Encouraging people to continue enjoying a walk outdoors as we move through a difficult winter will have positive benefits for mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Online exercise can have huge benefits for accessibility, but we must also be mindful of those for whom at-home, online delivery is not an option (due to lack of space, equipment, or internet access).
  • We will continue to signpost people to the latest physical activity guidelines from Sport England. We hope that this will encourage those who have been less active during the pandemic to make a safe and happy return to physical activity.

As a result of the second national lockdown (starting on 5th November), County Durham Sport, Rise, Tees Valley Sport and Teesside University have joined forces to release a second survey. The second survey further measures the experiences of people living in the North East, their relationship with physical activity during the ongoing pandemic, and the impact of the newly introduced tiered system.

To support this work, as many people as possible are encouraged to complete the survey, which can be found here:

It is hoped the collaboration between the active partnerships and university will encourage a more joined up approach to understanding the health and wellbeing of communities across the region. This research has scope to shape the work of County Durham Sport, Rise and Tees Valley Sport in tackling inequalities which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

For further information, please contact:

Rachel Mowbray (Insight Coordinator)