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25 Oct 2019

Report: visually impaired people want to cycle, swim and visit the gym
BY Tom Walker

Metro Blind Sport aims to open doors to sport for blind and partially sighted people of all ages and abilities

Metro Blind Sport aims to open doors to sport for blind and partially sighted people of all ages and abilities

Hitting the gym, swimming and cycling are the activities people with visual impairments most want to get involved in, according to a new impact report from Metro Blind Sport.

The report is based on a survey of Metro Blind Sport's network, which explored people's attitudes, preferences and behaviours towards physical activity.

Key findings include that 40 per cent of those surveyed would like to cycle, 39.5 per cent would like to swim and 35 per cent would like to go to the gym.

Encouragingly, 71 per cent of members of the charity are achieving the chief medical officer’s recommendation of undertaking 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity per week.

The main barriers to participation identified in the report were venue location – with 17 per cent of those surveyed citing it as a problem – lack of information about available activities (14 per cent) and nobody to go with (14 per cent).

Nearly all (94 per cent) participants feel that more could be done to encourage participation among those with a visual impairment.

The research forms part of a wider Impact Report, commissioned by Metro Blind Sport, to examine the influence the charity is having on participation – and to establish what more could be done to engage those with sight loss or visual impairment.

“The research has certainly produced some valuable insight and, for me, there are two standout learnings," said Martin Symcox, CEO at Metro Blind Sport.

“Firstly, our members and wider network are significantly more physically active than the rest of the visually impaired population. 71 per cent of those surveyed are achieving 150 minutes of activity per week. This is a significant improvement on figures reported in Sport England's Active Lives Survey, which states more than half (54 per cent) of people with a visual impairment are ‘inactive’, achieving less than 30 minutes per week.

“Secondly, the 2019 State of The Fitness Industry Report by The Leisure Database Company, states there are 2,729 public sector fitness facilities in the UK. All of these will be offering swimming, cycling and/or gym facilities. Our survey reports these are the activities most appealing to our visually impaired community, raising the question – why is there a disconnect between available facilities and engagement?”

“Over the coming months, I plan to focus on this area.

"Working in collaboration with leisure operators and ukactive plus providing access to our survey results, I want to help operators to better understand how to engage with the visually impaired community."

To download a full copy of the impact report, click here.



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