Nearly one in three adults in Ipswich now 'inactive' after Covid-19 lockdowns

Kirsty Watling founded The Fit Business during lockdown

Kirsty Watling, who runs Bodycare Plus and The Fit Business in Ipswich, is calling for people to get more active - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Nearly one in three adults in Ipswich is now "inactive" after a year of lockdowns - while the figure for the whole of Suffolk is now over one in four.

The latest Active Lives figures released by Sport England, covering the year from November 1990-20, shows 29.2% of over-16s in Ipswich are active for less than 30 minutes a week, a 1.6% increase on last year.

The figure for West Suffolk is 28.5%, while for Suffolk overall it is 26% - a slight increase on the recently revealed 23.5% figure covering the year to May 2020.

However,  on the plus side, the data also shows adults in the county are more active than the national average, which has been hailed by Active Suffolk as "welcome news".

Ipswich-based personal trainer Kirsty Watling, who runs Bodycare Plus in Fore Street and The Fit Business online , said: "The figures for inactive people in Ipswich are really worrying. We need to come together as a community to encourage more people to exercise."

She said it was particularly important to encourage parents and children to exercise together, so that youngsters get into a habit of exercise and keep on with it in adulthood.

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Ms Watling said lockdown had hit motivation and it had been particularly hard for people who didn't have any equipment at home to get exercising. But she added some people had done more exercise than ever, getting out in the fresh air.

An Active Suffolk spokesperson said: "In the next month we will be announcing the launch of a new collaboration which will support adults in the Whitton area of Ipswich to become more active.

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"We are confident that this project, in addition to other partnership projects across the town will help to tackle some of the health inequalities in the Ipswich area and drive the inactivity levels in the right direction.” 

The survey reports that 61.4% of adults in Suffolk are meeting physical activity guidelines set by the chief medical officer, and 63.2% are classed as "active", a slight improvement on last year.

Overall, the figures show that Suffolk is the only Active Partnership area to show a statistically significant increase in the number of active people since 2015/16, when the Active Lives survey was first produced.

Tony Bush, interim director of Active Suffolk

Tony Bush, interim director of Active Suffolk - Credit: David Garrad

Tony Bush, interim director at Active Suffolk said: “The results released by Sport England today provide some welcome news for Suffolk in what has been a very difficult and challenging year. However, we must not stop there.

"Although rates of adults who are meeting the CMO guidelines have increased, we also recognise that the health inequalities which existed prior to the pandemic have been further widened and reducing these inequalities is where our focus must remain.

"These results do not come as a surprise given the challenges we have faced due to the pandemic in the last year."

Mr Bush said Active Suffolk was proud of its collaborative approach and felt it was vital to work in partnership with other organisations to help those affected most by lockdowns. 

"We feel confident that through doing so, we will see the figures of active adults continue to rise, whilst we begin observing the number of inactive adults declining back to the levels reported prior to the pandemic.”

There are hopes levels of fitness will improve now that more gyms and leisure facilities are reopening under the government roadmap.

Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure

Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure - Credit: David Garrad

Warren Smyth, chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure, said: “We have been encouraged by the number of people that have engaged in physical activity over the last few weeks.

"The return to our Swim Academy sessions have been particularly noticeable and with group exercise coming back next month, we are sure that many more will return."

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