Nearly 40,000 fewer adults in Kent are meeting government guidelines for physical activity than before the coronavirus pandemic.

To help address this reduction, Kent Sport has announced a new fund to help groups and clubs with their efforts to increase public participation.

The latest results from Sport England’s Active Lives Adults Survey, highlight the ongoing impact COVID-19 has had on physical activity levels in Kent. It shows that only 61.2% (917,000) of people met the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of 150 minutes of regular physical activity a week during the period May 2020 to May 2021. This is a 2.9% (39,700) decrease in the number of active adults compared to the previous 12 months.

The data also shows that 27.3% (409,700) of Kent’s adults are physically inactive, meaning they are doing less than an average of 30 minutes of physical activity a week. This is a 2.2% (35,000) increase in the number of inactive adults compared to the previous 12 months.

Further Sport England research has shown that groups including women, young people aged 16-24, over 75s, disabled people, people with long-term health conditions, and culturally diverse communities have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, significantly impacting their ability to be physically active.

two ladies walking with nordic poles on coast

To address these inequalities Kent Sport (the Active Partnership for Kent and Medway) has been awarded a total of £340,000 from Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund (TIF) and has also launched the Everyday Active campaign, with hints, tips and inspiration, to help people to be more active.

Set up in April 2020 in response to COVID-19, TIF aims to support community organisations working with four key audiences: lower socio-economic groups, culturally diverse communities, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions. Kent Sport has already worked with more than 60 organisations to continue to engage with their communities and support them to be physically active. Examples of projects supported by the fund include:

Sport England has recently launched the Together Fund – a continuation of the Tackling Inequalities Fund which will offer organisations across Kent and Medway the opportunity to continue to apply for funding.

The Together Fund will be administered by Kent Sport and will open in March 2022. Organisations can apply for up to £10,000 and have until March 2023 to commit and deliver their projects. Contact kentsport@kent.gov.uk if you would like further information.

Liz Davidson, the Partnership Director at Kent Sport, said: “We recognise the incredible effort people across the county have made to adapt throughout the year, and the continued efforts made to address inequalities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Throughout the pandemic the team has looked to support partners, providers and projects that have sought to keep people across the county active.

an increased focus on physical activity needs to play a vital role in Kent’s recovery to improve health and wellbeing in all of our communities

“However, we know that more needs to be done and that an increased focus on physical activity needs to play a vital role in Kent’s recovery to improve health and wellbeing in all of our communities. We will continue to work with the sector to address these challenges and help find new ways to help people keep active and return to physical activity and sport in a way that is accessible to everyone.

“I would recommend that anyone making their first step to being more active visits the Everyday Active website for tips and inspiration on how to get started.”