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Snapshot shows early Covid-19 effects on disabled people’s activity

The Covid-19 pandemic has placed unparalleled constraints on many populations. None more so than on disabled people. To understand the wider picture, Activity Alliance developed an overview of findings from the range of secondary resources released so far. This gives a sense of the impact on and barriers to activity for disabled people. They also give an idea of what challenges we as a collaborative movement in sport and leisure may face in the future.

Boy in a powerchair having fun at school sports event
  • Three quarters of disabled people are "very” or "somewhat” worried about the effect that coronavirus is having on their life[i]
  • Almost two fifths of disabled people said they were doing less activity than prior to lockdown [ii]
  • Disabled people are half as likely to agree they have the ability to be physically active because of COVID-19[iii]
  • Over half of disabled people want to increase the amount of activity they do post lockdown[iv]

We know that people from a diverse range of backgrounds are affected by the restrictions. However, research repeatedly shows that disabled people and people with long-term health conditions are more adversely affected than other populations.

Before the pandemic, we were making good progress on closing the unjust gap between disabled and non-disabled people’s activity levels.

Indeed, as we went into lockdown, we witnessed the highest number recorded for disabled people’s activity levels yet. Disabled people had seen an increase in activity levels, with a 2.5% increase on the previous 12 months. However, this still showed disabled people almost twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people.

It is extremely frustrating that inequalities have widened during the crisis. We continue to work together as a membership organisation to address the growing concern that disabled people may become the forgotten audience.

This resource helps those working in sport and leisure to understand disabled people’s feelings and experiences brought to the forefront by the crisis. We have captured the research on disabled people’s lives in general, and specifically their motivation and ability to be physically active.

It enables you to access the impact and evidence, supporting your strategies and conversations ahead.

Sport and leisure positively change lives, with fantastic inclusive examples. We must celebrate that. We urge decision-makers and providers from across sport and leisure to put inclusion at the heart of your plans.

Access the COVID-19 research page here.

Please contact our research team if you have any useful reports or require access to the PowerPoint slides. Call 01509 227750 or email

[i] Coronavirus and the social impacts on Great Britain, ONS 7 August 2020