FAST Programme: how has COVID-19 impacted on families’ activity levels?

FAST Programme: how has COVID-19 impacted on families’ activity levels?

Posted: Mon, 05 Oct 2020 15:36

FAST Programme: how has COVID-19 impacted on families’ activity levels?

Cherwell District Council's FAST programme in Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington is designed to break down barriers for families so that they can access affordable physical activity and sports opportunities. FAST is funded by Sport England and partnerships and supported locally by Active Oxfordshire.

Lockdown survey for FAST families

During lockdown, the FAST team wanted to learn more about the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on participants' physical activity levels and behaviours. It was also vital to understand more about the shifting barriers to getting active, to help adapt FAST activities going forwards. 153 families who had signed up to the FAST programme responded: you can read the full survey here

Headlines from the survey

  • Adults who took part in the FAST programme were less active during lockdown than adults in the general population, based on recent figures from Sport England
  • 35% of adults reported exercising less during lockdown than before
  • 25% of adults said they are exercising more (compared to 32% nationally)
  • In contrast, children who took part in the FAST programme were more active than national figures reported by Sport England, with 40% of FAST programme participants doing 30-60 minutes per day compared to 37% nationally
  • However, general activity levels for children are significantly lower than usual, with 56% of children doing less activity during lockdown

What are the barriers to getting active?

"We have done less and have struggled with ideas"

  • For 39% of families, lack of ideas on how to be active as a family has prevented them from being active together.
  • 32% of families see lack of space within their house as a barrier while an additional 12% of families do not have enough garden space.
  • Other barriers families have experienced include shielding, the closing of facilities, overcrowding of outdoor spaces, lack of motivation, anxiety and other commitments such as work, schooling and childcare.

Has lockdown changed physical activity behaviours of FAST families?

For many families, lockdown has provided new opportunities to get active together, such as walking and cycling; though it was clear that families have missed being able to access FAST sessions.

"We have slightly more time as a family to go for more walks and bike rides."

"We have walked more often and created more games to play outside. We miss swimming and soft play for toddler exercise."

"We have walked a lot more and found new places to wander. We miss swimming though A LOT!"

How has the FAST Programme adapted?

FAST has adapted to the current situation by rolling out a number of activities this summer within social distancing guidelines. Alongside partner organisations, FAST has safely introduced offers such as family swimming, table tennis, gym, clip 'n climb, canoeing and kayaking.

Many FAST families have found activities such as walking and cycling enjoyable and accessible during lockdown, while others have said they'd like more resources to help them go on fun walks and family-friendly cycling routes. For that reason, the FAST team will be launching the Streettag app. Families will then be able to explore different walking and cycling routes, collect points and win prizes.

FAST is also working with local partners to introduce a new cycling resource with information on local trails and guided rides. In addition, Youth Activator sessions are now being offered exclusively at outdoor venues with limited numbers and pre-booked slots.

We're very proud to be able to support Cherwell District Council's FAST Programme, at a time when staying physically active is critically important for our Oxfordshire community.

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