0191 307 7117
As we move into the autumn and winter, activity levels start to fall. Previous research from Women in Sport showed that activity levels (for both men and women) decline in November – reaching their lowest levels between December and February.
Some of the reasons for this include: bad weather, low motivation, winter being seen as a time to stay indoors, and concerns about personal safety in the dark.
More recently, Sport England’s research into physical activity during the Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted winter weather and darker nights as key influences on people’s motivation and participation in physical activity.
Clearly, winter presents some challenges for us in keeping physically active. Could these challenges be greater for older people?
Whatever the weather, physical activity levels are lower amongst older people. Nationally, only 38% of people aged over 75 are physically active compared to 68% of people aged 16-34 (Sport England, 2019/20). With activity levels already lower amongst older people, we want to understand how the winter season might have a particularly big impact on older people’s physical activity engagement.
To do this, County Durham Sport are funding and collaborating on research with Durham University to better understand how older people experience winter weather.
Postgraduate researcher, Miles Lowson, will be going on walking interviews with local people in coastal and in-land regions of County Durham. Miles will talk to them about their feelings and experiences of winter weather where they live. In particular, Miles will try to understand how winter conditions (cold, rain, ice, etc.) affect how, where, and when people go out walking. As well as how walking might influence people’s perceptions of the weather!
The aim of the research is to understand and amplify the experiences of older people in County Durham. And – as an added bonus – for people to be active and participate in research at the same time through walking interviews.
Upcoming Weather Workshops
Dr Cassie Phoenix from the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Durham University is supervising the research. Cassie is a research expert in healthy ageing, environments, and weather. She is also leading the Weatherlines project, which is part of the 2021 Festival of Social Science.
Weatherlines is offering free, online workshops in which people will have the opportunity to explore their experiences and perceptions of weather through poetry and creative writing workshops. The workshops will be held on November 10th and November 17th. Workshop tickets can be booked here.
Connecting with the National Live Longer Better Movement
This research will support County Durham Sport’s role in the Live Longer Better programme. Live Longer Better is a national movement, seeking to bring about more positive attitudes towards physical activity in later life. Active Partnerships from across the country meet regularly to share learning and best practice about active ageing.
It can be a challenge for us all to stay active as the temperature gets colder, and the nights get longer. But, by working together, we can better understand this challenge and work towards better supporting people of all ages to keep moving all year round.
Posted on 26th October 2021