Four in ten disabled people say the cost of living crisis is impacting their ability to stay active, according to new research by Activity Alliance.
The national charity is now calling for a greater effort to tackle inequalities that affect disabled people, such as reducing loneliness and the impact of the cost of living crisis.
Physical activity improves health and reduces loneliness and isolation
The survey, which is based on responses from more than 2,000 people, found that despite the barriers disabled people face to physical activity, this group are more likely to say they want to be active compared to non-disabled people (77% vs 54%).
The Activity Alliance say this “activity gap” has remained consistent in previous years, showing an ongoing unmet need.
Despite the desire to get active, many reported a fear that being more active will result in their benefits or financial assistance being removed. For those on benefits, more than a third (37%) of disabled people were concerned that being more active will result in their benefits or financial assistance being removed.
The survey’s respondents said memberships and concessions and having more disposable income would have the most impact, and two thirds (64%) of respondents said the government should put measures in place to ensure activities are affordable for everyone.
This would also have benefits such as increased social interaction and improved mental wellbeing. Indeed, disabled people were roughly three times as likely than non-disabled people to feel lonely always or often (23% vs 8%), and nearly two-thirds said that getting active could help them feel less lonely (65%).
Getting active could therefore have multiple benefits for people with learning disabilities, including reducing levels of loneliness and isolation, which has sky rocketed since the pandemic.
Ensuring sports are affordable and accessible
The Activity Alliance said there is a clear spending gap for what disabled people are spending and want to spend on physical activity, with disabled people spending an average of £13.40 less than non-disabled people on being active each month.
Adam Blaze, Chief Executive at Activity Alliance is now calling on the government and other decision makers to ensure that everyone has access to sports and other forms of physical activity.
He said: “We understand decision makers and providers facing economic challenges, but we must ensure that disabled people are never excluded from access to sport and physical activity. Our annual survey provides clear evidence that we need to address concerns in a number of areas to improve opportunity and experiences for disabled people. Activity Alliance and our partners can help organisations to improve and embed the necessary inclusive practices that will make a significant and positive difference.”
“We urge leaders and organisations to read the report and see what immediate changes they can make with a plan to achieve long-term goals,” he added.