Sport England to Get Inactive Groups Moving with New Fitness Campaign!
After one hundred days as Chief Executive of Sport England - the UK's leading public body for national sport and physical activity - Tim Hollingsworth has revealed ambitious plans to get disadvantaged groups and communities moving more. In his first interview since taking charge, Hollingsworth expressed concerns that the benefits of exercise aren't reaped equally across the country.
He told reporters, "We can't keep offering the same things to the same people. We have an obligation to ensure that people who don't find it easy to access physical activity [...] also have an opportunity to get involved."
Sport England will now focus on increasing activity levels within economically deprived communities and among lower socioeconomic groups, disabled people, individuals of black and mixed ethnicity and women and girls. Historically, these groups are known to spend significantly less time on physical activity than their peers. As a result, they're at greater risk of developing obesity and related diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Are Community Initiatives the Secret to Better Wellbeing?
The good news is, in recent years, community initiatives like Parkrun have inspired thousands of people - particularly those from neighbourhoods without sports and fitness facilities - to get off the couch and get active. The popularity of these large scale activity gatherings supports Hollingsworth's assertion that, perhaps, it's the incentives which need to change.
Yes, investment in community gyms, sports centres, tennis courts, swimming pools and football pitches is sorely lacking in deprived areas of the country. It's something Sport England is keen to rectify with a £100m fund from the exchequer and National Lottery. Yet, what's most encouraging about the statements Hollingsworth gave to reporters is the emphasis on 'thinking and behaving differently.'
If new gyms and sports centres aren't leading to an increase in physical activity among disadvantaged groups, it suggests there are more obstacles to overcome than lack of facilities. Parkrun has proved it's possible to motivate people even without big spending. And the formula for success may be simpler than it looks. The weekly running event boasts many devotees who were completely new to exercise before their first group run.
Which Comes First, Competence Or Confidence?
Why? Because it's easy to get started. Just register, get your gym kit out and head to your local park. Aside from a printable barcode, there are no prior requirements - no special knowledge needed, no specific level of fitness advised and no rules about how or when to run. It's swinging by your local park on a Saturday versus paying for a gym or sports centre full of equipment you've never seen before and most of which you'll never touch.
It's about building movement competence, so people actually have the confidence to try sports.
Fundamental Movement Skills are the foundation for proficiency in sports. When these skills are developed in early childhood, young people have the opportunity to grow into competent, capable adults with bodies that adapt to fit a broad variety of physical activities. We must, first, ensure underactive adults have the support needed to acquire these skills and, second, make Fundamental Movement a core aspect of early learning, play and development.
Click for more information on the development of Fundamental Movement Skills in childhood.
To find your nearest Parkrun event, visit www.parkrun.org.uk/events. It's free to take part and, if you register for a personal barcode, you can record and track your run times on your account.