Keep People Active
Keep People Active
Keeping people active is more important than ever as we cope with Covid-19. But for most people, keeping active at the level which brings immense – and measurable – improvements to both their mental and physical health requires facilities of some kind. Whether these are playing pitches, netball and tennis courts, bowling greens, golf courses, indoor sports halls, swimming pools, gyms or a range of other resources. And we believe we need to keep as many of these facilities open now as we can.
Hundreds of sports clubs and facilities which were closed earlier in the year are now back up and running with all kinds of social distancing and safety measures put in place. Some activities lend themselves to social distancing – golf and tennis have already been highlighted – but we believe there are many other sports and activities where the systems and measures are in place to minimize contact and unnecessary risk.
Millions of children and adults – from all ages and communities – who look forward to their weekly football matches, round of golf, swim or gym session are now back taking part, appreciating the benefits even more now that the weather is more inclement and it’s harder just to get out for a walk or a run. Taking part in regular exercise is often a habit which, once interrupted, may be hard to restart. Interruptions may affect people’s long term commitment to it, which may then start to affect the viability of the facilities themselves. It is widely thought already that a number of indoor facilities including pools and gyms may never reopen - but once we do come out of lockdown we will need our community sporting infrastructure more than ever to continue the widely supported objectives of improving people’s mental and physical health and tackling obesity.
We run a planning consultancy which focuses on sport and health (belap.co.uk). Over the years we have talked with thousands of facility managers and volunteers who run local football, tennis, rugby, hockey, bowls and other clubs and indoor and outdoor facilities and we know how dedicated they are to encouraging people to keep active and healthy. At this stage in the season, for example, the interruption to hundreds of local soccer leagues, with worse weather to face once we come out of lockdown, will have a huge impact and may mean that many teams will not play this season at all. For children especially – who are already going to school – their weekend sport may be something they miss terribly.
But the most important thing in keeping our sports facilities open – if not all of them at least some –is that it is a message of hope. It sends a message that people can help themselves to keep healthy – not just for the virus but for all the other illnesses, mental and physical, that can overwhelm us.
We are all used to the restrictions, we all know the seriousness of what we are facing – let sports facilities and other active environments stay open and be used, even if more restrictions around numbers of players, length of activities etc are put in place. To keep us all active. And to keep us all healthy.