The COVID-19 pandemic means that many of us are staying at home and sitting down more than we usually do. It’s hard for a lot of us to do the sort of exercise we normally do. It’s even harder for people who don’t usually do a lot of physical exercise.

Over the past 10 weeks Health, Social Care and Community have worked closely together to support vulnerable people in their communities across Essex.  Local Authorities were tasked with mobilising Local Community Response Hubs to support local communities, and whilst many were initially set up for emergency food and prescription collection and deliveries, they have quickly expanded the support on offer, based on the local need, which for many has been supporting mental wellbeing, loneliness and social isolation.  Across Essex befriending and social prescribing programmes are providing an invaluable resource, which is enabling professionals and volunteers opportunities to have conversations with people about their wellbeing, including physical activity.

Being physically active and well is being championed at the highest possible level with the Prime Minister and Chief Medical Officer both stating, “Right now exercise is one of the best things you can do to help fight diseases like Coronavirus and other health conditions”.

Initial key insights from the ‘State of Life’ Essex wide wellbeing survey which was launched on 23rd March show:

  • Higher rates of inactivity were found among those living in areas of deprivation, older people (65+) and those with poor mental health; consistent with LDP baseline data.  However, families are no longer more inactive than average.
  • Overall 83.7% of respondents felt they had the capabilities to be physically active.
  • Overall 76.3% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they have the opportunity to be physically active.
  • Overall 64.9% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that they find exercise enjoyable and satisfying (motivation).

We believe there has never been a better opportunity in this lifetime for communities to come together and support everyone to be active. An ‘inactive’ person is classified as doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week, and the Chief Medical Officer for England recommends we should be aiming to do 150 minutes of physical activity per week which includes strength and balance.

With the above in mind there is still a high percentage of the population in Essex who are inactive and need information, advice and guidance to becoming more active. The Active Essex team in partnership with Sport for Confidence have produced a guide for professionals and volunteers on how to start a conversation about being more physically active.

Regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can all do for our health and we hope that together we can all keep Essex active.

We include here links to our series of resources including the recording of our webinar from: Thursday 9th July, the ‘Starting the Conversation 1 page resource’ and some physical activity sheets which can be printed and sent to someone to support their journey in being more active; and going forward a new Making Every Contact Count (MECC) is being developed to support the wider workforce.

Webinar Recording: