Each year, popular sports app Strava use the past 12 months of data from their users to calculate the day people are most likely to abandon their new physical fitness goals for the new year.
This year’s Quitter’s Day falls this weekend – on Sunday, January 26th 2020.
It’s no secret that physical activity is extremely important for not only our physical health, but our mental wellbeing. As Harvard Health Publishing puts it, exercise “has a unique capacity to exhilarate and relax, to provide stimulation and calm, to counter depression and dissipate stress”.
Good physical and mental health doesn’t just benefit the individual. As a student or employee, it will impact motivation, productivity and reduce the chance of absence due to illness – all of which benefit schools, universities and workplaces.
Despite all these benefits, it’s a lot harder for adults to be active than it is for children. Cambridge University released the results of two new pieces of research this week in their article ‘Becoming less active and gaining weight: downsides of becoming an adult’. The research shows that both leaving school and getting a job lead to a drop in the amount of physical activity that adults undertake.
There are key elements to encouraging any type of good physical habit to form, including encouraging team activity and providing good access to sporting facilities.
Although the Cambridge research shows that there’s a notable drop in physical activity after leaving school, it’s not to say that schools are directly responsible for the higher activity levels in younger people.
In fact, recent Sport England research shows that activity in schools over the past two years actually stagnated, despite a 3.6% rise in activity levels for young people overall.
There was a 4.6% increase in young people taking part in activity outside school instead. This may be down to increased participation in local sports teams or in sports that schools don’t offer.
To help contribute to wider participation in sports, schools can increase the variety of sports they offer through expanded facilities/equipment and encourage participation in team sports.
Strava noted that users who ‘exercise in a group record 10% more activities’, so by introducing students to team sports in school, schools can encourage pupils to develop a love for sports that they’ll continue and maintain beyond school.
In 2019, we constructed new sporting facilities at Holy Cross Preparatory school, encompassing an under-utilised area, approximately 1/3rd of the school’s footprint, bringing it into everyday use. The facilities include one flood-lit sand-dressed artificial grass turf hockey pitch, one artificial grass turf pitch, a sports pavilion and cross-country run around the boundary of the facility.
With a sport for all with excellence policy, the school’s bursar noted that “all girls in years 3 to 6 have the opportunity to represent their school in a sports team”. Through their official partnership with two local state schools, the facilities have also been able to allow the school to widen access to their resources, benefitting not only their own pupils, but those in the wider community as well.
There are plenty of things that can be done to combat the drop in activity levels in adults – and allow those New Years resolutions to really stick. If we all do enough to encourage physical wellbeing, perhaps one day Quitter’s Day will be a thing of the past!
The leisure industry also plays an important role in getting both adults and children more active, in providing access to facilities across the nation.
With UKActive’s Research Institute showing a 5% decline in visits to leisure centres from FY17 to FY19, it’s important for leisure centres to provide the sporting facilities that both members and non-members seek.
For example, outside of the ‘core three’ sporting activities that members attend leisure centres for, Football was the clear leader in the most popular sporting activity in 2019, growing year on year since 2017. It is also a huge draw for non-members, providing a strong way of drawing in PAYG members who may not have the financial ability to be full time members – improving access to sport regardless of financial status.
If you think space might be an issue for an artificial pitch, think again. Woking Leisure Centre showed us this in their innovative use of space. Where most people would see a dull multi-storey, they saw an opportunity. The roof of their customer car park is home to 4x artificial grass turf football pitches, a 5-a-side complex we were thrilled to refurbish in late 2019.
With Cambridge University’s research pointing to ‘getting a job’ as one of the two key reasons behind a lack of physical activity in adults, does the buck stop with the workplace?
If you want to combat activity and productivity levels, give workers the opportunity to get active in the workplace itself. Whether it be a large-scale development or simply a fitness trail around the office boundary, there is plenty that can be done to contribute towards a more active workforce.
Widening the opportunity for team sports, as well as individual fitness, is a great way to not only help staff members get more physically fit, but can help colleagues learn to communicate more and work better together as a team.
Times are changing, and with the construction of many new business parks, health and wellbeing is becoming a huge consideration for businesses choosing a new home for their office spaces.
When it came to expanding their car manufacturing plant, the BMW MINI Plant knew that the football pitches on Horspath road in Oxford would have to be removed.
Knowing the importance of sports within the community, BMW funded a £5m new sports park, set across 39 acres and including 16 football pitches, two cricket pitches and softball facilities.
We were thrilled to work on this project, delivering first class sporting facilities to local clubs and businesses within the community.
There are plenty of touch-points for both adults and children in their lifetime, where sport can be actively promoted to encourage healthier and more active lifestyles – truly allowing those new year’s resolutions to stick. Here’s to a future where Quitter’s Day becomes a thing of the past!
Get in touch with your sports construction experts.
Our in-house dedicated design and planning team would be happy to discuss your site’s potential, and the sports facilities possible within the space available.