Greater Manchester residents moving more than ever before the Covid-19 pandemic

By GreaterSport | 23 April 2020 | TAGS: GM Moving, Active Lives, research


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  • 1,649,900 adults (16+) in Greater Manchester are moving for at least 30 mins a week.
  • An increase of 17,400 from the survey 12 months ago
  • When the number of children moving in Greater Manchester is added to this it totals; 1.94 million residents moving at least 30 minutes a week towards GreaterSport’s 2 million moving by 2021 target.

Research released today (April 23, 2020) by Sport England shows that activity levels were rising before the disruption caused by Covid-19 pandemic with 73.8% of adults moving for at least 30 minutes a week in Greater Manchester. This means 17,400 more residents are recognising the benefits of movement and continues a positive upwards trend towards the ambition of 75% of the population active by 2025.

Recent Government restrictions limiting the amount of physical movement people are able to do reminds us all of the importance of physical activity to protect and improve our health and mental wellbeing. Today’s data reveals that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic more people in Greater Manchester are moving but the city-region figures are still below the national average of 75.4%.

Supporting people to move more drives the GM Moving ambition shared across partner organisations, people and communities throughout the region. The GM Moving Plan, backed by the Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham and delivered by people and organisations right across the city region, set the target to reach 75% of the population doing at least 30 minutes of activity a week by 2025.

The plan is supported by an investment of £12 million, including £10 million from Sport England and £2 million from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership’s Population Health Plan. This aims to make movement a normal part of everyday life in the city-region, addressing the significant health impacts and inequalities linked to inactivity.  The Greater Manchester Moving approach is to work on all the influences on how much we move during our average day to re-design movement back into our lives.  

Hayley Lever, GreaterSport CEO and Exec Lead for GM Moving said: “Today’s Active Lives data shows that we are on the right track, heading in the right direction. Together we will support and enable active, healthy, happy lives moving towards our GM Moving goal. Everyone should have the opportunity to move more every day and moving can be designed into life in new ways. It can be difficult to fit activity in, which is why we promote building movement into everyday routines from taking the stairs instead of the lift or walking that bit further, as every minute does count towards the recommended 30 minutes a day for adults. 

“We also recognise that in these challenging times, many of us across Greater Manchester are finding it harder to be physically active. But there are opportunities to design moving into ‘lockdown life’, if we support each other. There are plenty of ways to keep moving at home, in a way that suits our new lives!”

Being active improves physical health, helps us manage stress and anxiety and makes us feel happier. One Greater Manchester resident who has got back into physical activity through walking is John Dawson.

Diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes three years ago when he was 17.3 stone John was advised by his GP that he might be able to control the condition through lifestyle changes. John decided to take up walking. He has now reversed his Diabetes diagnosis and finds walking helps a great deal with his mental health.

“I find walking is fantastic for both mental and physical health. Being out in nature is great for someone like me, who suffers from anxiety and depression. Walking has helped me reverse the Diabetes diagnosis. I now make videos on YouTube which I hope will inspire people to get out and walk in their local areas.”

While the effect of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and resulting social distancing guidelines are not yet clear GM Moving launched a new campaign, #KeepGMMoving. New films give fun tips on keeping our activity levels up and online information supports people to find their way to move more, at home, outside and in different kinds of life situations. There are many examples of the ways communities, partners and organisations are working together to design moving back into life during the lockdown. #KeepGMMoving is something we can all support and play a part in.

To find out more follow #KeepGMMoving on social media or go to

Examples of the new ways partners and communities are discovering to keep people moving during the lockdown

1. The Seashell Trust, a Stockport based charity and partner organisation delivering on Stockport’s local delivery pilot is dedicated to providing a happy and secure environment for children and young people with complex and severe learning disabilities which include little or no language abilities. The charity has delivered an inclusive family kit bag packed with ideas for activities to do at home. Alongside this, filming took place to set up a YouTube channel to provide visual instructions and additional ideas. Families have been receiving telephone support to check in, listen and share ideas for using the kit and help to grow their confidence. This work is part of Stockport’s Active Communities Strategy to provide a wider vision for Stockport to help individuals, families & communities to be more active. Find out more about the Seashell Trust here: and Stockport Active Communities here.

2. Manchester Active’s Active Lifestyle & MatchFit Instructors who have been unable to deliver their face to face sessions responded to the lockdown quickly, recording short exercise videos sent via Whats App to all participants via the MCRactive social media channels. Live online sessions are now up and running at the times that the regular face to face sessions ran, helping to maintain routine and structure for participants. The feedback received from participants has been very positive with many of them struggling in isolation. Follow social media channels, for daily messages of support, inspiration, guidance and updates to the city around physical activity and moving more. Connect with MCRactive on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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