Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

How can we support Disabled people to get active

Despite the known benefits of physical activity, Sport England’s Active Lives Survey (2020) showed that less than half (47%) of Disabled people or those with a long-term health condition are active compared to 67% of those without.

Multiple studies have shown the health and wellbeing benefits of physical activity for Disabled people. These include improved energy, better decision-making, lower levels of stress, as well as creating a sense of community.

Through our work at Get Yourself Active, it has become clear that we need to inform carers and support workers about the importance of physical activity, because they are essential and trusted messengers to those they care for. Ultimately, if they understand more about the benefits and what is on offer, they will be better placed to support a Disabled person to lead a more active life.

Why do we need to be Active Together?

In our interviews with Disabled people, the message was clear, those who are inactive want to become active, and those who are active want to be more active – and all mentioned the multiple barriers getting in the way of their plans to be active. Just four in 10 (40%) Disabled people feel like they are given the opportunity to be as active as they would like.

Being physically active does not have to be complicated – it simply means moving our bodies more in any way we can. This also does not have to mean running marathons or training every day at the gym. Being active is about joining any activity we want, and those who care or support us need to help us to do so.

Many of those who work in the care sector or social work have reported that they want to understand more about the importance of physical activity and what is on offer, so that they can be better placed to help Disabled people lead a more active life.

New resources to support Disabled people to get active

To tackle this issue, we have worked alongside noted film-makers Rainbow Collective, social care providers Trafford Choices and Community Integrated Care, and the Skills for Care charity to launch a new, publicly accessible video series that shows how Disabled people can get active in care environments.

The videos aim to promote a better understanding of the reality of getting active. We want these videos to be used as teaching resources in the social care sector to break down barriers and support Disabled people to be active in the ways they want.

These videos will prove to be a valuable resource by tackling the barriers head-on. Providing social workers, care staff and family members with the knowledge and tools to become agents of change, supporting Disabled people to enact their right to get active in the ways that they want.

The videos are freely available on the Get Yourself Active YouTube channel, and they show the reality of Disabled people’s participation in physical activity, which activities we take part in, and how this activity makes us feel.

Furthermore, we ensured that support and care workers included in the film show examples of how they stay active together and how it benefits them all. We wanted to show Disabled people talking about why physical activity is important to them and how they have been supported to take part. The stories of Andrea, Harvey and Thomas show how important getting active is to us.

We want these videos to be the start; we know how important it is to challenge misconceptions about disability and physical activity so watch this space for more from the Get Yourself Active team.

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