Balancing Life 2020 survey results

Results of Sport and Physical Activity’s (SPA) annual survey, which looks at activity and wellbeing levels in the University’s community, have been released.

SPA’s annual survey focuses on the impact of the pandemic on activity and wellbeing levels

The Balancing Life heart logo on a blue and green background. January 2021

2020’s Balancing Life survey focused specifically on the impact of covid-19 and lockdown measures, with insights drawn from the findings playing a key role in shaping future plans and initiatives.

The results will also help drive Sport and Physical Activity’s Do What Moves You strategy, which outlines the vision to make Leeds the best university at being active.

The Aim

Many people’s lives have changed significantly due to covid-19. The country has now entered its third lockdown period and, with gyms and leisure centres currently closed, there is once again more of an emphasis on exercising at home or outdoors.

This was also the case when SPA launched its survey in May 2020, where it asked staff and students to reflect on the preceding four weeks, when strict restrictions were in place.

The team was keen to explore how social distancing measures and a period of being told to ‘stay home’ impacted upon habits and attitudes towards physical activity, as well as the overall wellbeing of our university community.

The results identified quite a significant difference in physical activity and wellbeing levels compared to the previous year.

Key Results

A total of 57% of the 800 people surveyed said they were ‘active’, meaning they take part in the recommended 150+ minutes of physical activity per week, compared to 75% in the 2019 results.

This shows activity levels dropped significantly due to the impact of covid-19, with 82% saying their habits around physical activity had changed due to the impact of lockdown (41% of which said they were less physically active).

Exactly half of those surveyed said that they would exercise more again once restrictions had eased. Results echo those at national level found via the Active Lives Coronavirus Report.

Although 82% of participants said they considered it important to take part in sport and physical activity, there are clearly barriers preventing this. Workload or study commitments, not having the right equipment and caring responsibilities were the most common issues for staff and students.

SPA used the Short Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (SWEMWBS) to assess wellbeing levels among staff and students, and found a slight drop in compared to last year. Results did, however, show positive correlations between physical activity and wellbeing, with 86% of those classed as ‘active’ scoring high on SWEMWBS. Comparably, 55% of those with low wellbeing scores also reported that they had become less physically active as a result of lockdown.   

You can view the full report of headline results on the SPA website (the link opens a PDF in your web browser).

Getting Active

SPA has been working hard to provide physical activity opportunities for both staff and students during the pandemic, and will continue to do so.

The Edge’s Your Home, Your Move hub includes a range of live-streamed exercise classes and pre-recorded content, as well as blogs and other information to keep you healthy, that you can access at home.

The Get Out, Get Active (GOGA) team has been running monthly virtual run relays for colleagues, and has recently introduced monthly step challenges. This is a great way for colleagues to stay connected with others and keep active whilst working remotely. You can also access virtual yoga and Pilates classes.

Visit the Balancing Life webpage for more information or to contact the team if you have any questions about this survey and the results.

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