Can we ‘move’ our way out of this Pandemic?

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Science in the spotlight

Since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold in early 2020, scientists have been working hard in laboratories across the world to develop vaccines, treatments and cures for the infectious disease.

International collaborations resulted in the first vaccine being approved for use, and subsequent ones since. And scientists are still working together to research, test and assess diverse ways that can help us to move through and recover from the pandemic.

Early praise for movement

When the first national lockdown was announced, non-essential outings were banned, and daily exercise was one of the few legal reasons we were allowed to leave our homes – showing the importance the Government placed on keeping the country ‘moving’.

Chief Medical Officer Sir Chris Whitty emphasised the importance of exercise further during a Downing Street press conference in April 2020 when he said,

“There is no situation, there is no age, there is no condition where exercise is not a good thing.”

Inequalities have risen

Research shows that whilst many people were encouraged to start or increase their activity levels during the early phases of the pandemic, this was not the experience for everyone and too many have found it even harder to lead active lives.

The Active Lives survey has logged dramatic declines in activity levels for certain groups as well as increases in levels of inactivity nationally. The latest survey shows that compared to the last full pre-pandemic data point 2.4%/0.8m fewer people are active and there are 2.9%/1.4m more inactive adults.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on activity levels throughout England but this has been most acute across disadvantaged groups and areas of high deprivation.

As we pass the two-year mark since the first cases of Covid-19 were discovered, we find ourselves still living alongside the disease. We need to find ways that help us to reduce the chances of severe complications from Covid-19 and help us recover individually and as global society and movement can be part of the solution.


The magic of movement

Whilst the wide-ranging benefits of regular movement, physical activity and sport are well documented, the scientific community is also showing that physical activity has an important role to play as we live alongside and recover from Covid-19.

A recent study by an international team of researchers, led by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), has shown some promising findings on the impact of being physically active, it shows:

Senior men after exercising


  • Physical activity can reduce the chance of catching the virus by 31 per cent
  • Physically active people are 50 per cent more likely to develop higher levels of antibodies than inactive people
  • That 30 minutes of activity 5 days a week decreases the risk of falling ill and dying of infectious diseases by 37 per cent
  • Exercise could also boost the effectiveness of vaccines by up to 40 per cent

Sebastien Chastin, GCU’s professor of health behaviour dynamics who led the study commented that,

“This research is hugely significant and could help to cut the number people contracting COVID-19 and dying from it.”

The benefits outweigh the risks

In addition to the positive results from the research published by GCU, a new consensus statement from health experts released in November 2021 has determined that physical activity is safe – even for people living with symptoms of multiple conditions.


So why do studies and reports matter?

The consensus statement, along with existing and recent research shows that in fact, regular movement is not magic, but a hard hitting and effective tool that can improve our physical health, mental well-being, community cohesion, educational attainment, and economic prosperity.

This evidence can help change the systems we live in, informing decision making, policy and investment decisions. This can all combine to break down the barriers to moving that many people face and level the health and activity inequalities that have been made worse by the pandemic.


Moving forwards

At Leap, we exist to improve the lives of residents in Bucks and MK through regular movement, physical activity and sport so we’re delighted to hear the results of this recent study.

However, we also know that increasing activity levels, and reducing inactivity levels isn’t always simple. There are complex barriers and many systems and support services need to change to tackle the imbalance that exists between those who are active and those who are not.

What the pandemic has reinforced to us though is that, just like the scientific community, working together achieves more than we ever could alone, and that focussed attention achieves results.

We’re hosting two events in the coming months on some exciting topics, and we can’t wait to collaborate with you.


Activity for All Summit
Supporting the transition of disabled young people from Education to community activity and sport
Monday 31st January
Virtual event

Click here to view the agenda and book your place.


Leap Partner Forum: Benefits outweigh the risks
Making movement matter: Evidence on the benefits of moving

Wednesday 9th February 10am-12:30pm
Virtual event

Click here to book your place now. 





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