Exercise is as important for disabled people as it is for everybody else. The physical and psychological benefits have been well documented. Whilst most people are happy to exercise on their own or at home, others need help from qualified professionals to get started and then remain motivated. Bearing this in mind, the 2018 Future Fit Training report into the physical activity sector market – Raising the Bar – highlighted a number of worrying issues with regard to disabled people and exercise.

Exercise professionals not trained to help disabled

The report, produced in conjunction with the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) and UK Active, worryingly found that 86% of respondents think that most exercise professionals are not adequately trained to work with disabled people. On the positive side 95% of respondents thought that working with disabled people should be included as standard in the Personal Trainer qualification rather than being an optional study route.

Disabled people amongst the least active

Disabled people are currently amongst the least active people in society – almost twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people. Similarly, disabled people comprise approximately a fifth of the UK population and are therefore a key component of the physical activity sector’s market.

So, the results of the report highlighted that the sector has some way to go to be able to address the needs of disabled people. It went on to highlight a number of immediate areas for both the sector and policy-makers to look to address – the foremost of which is that more than half (61%) of respondents did not measure or were unsure of what proportion of their customer base had a disability.

When asked directly, many were unaware of the breadth of conditions that constitute a ‘disability.’ Collecting more robust information on the number of disabled gym-goers is essential to making the ‘business case’ for inclusivity.

Positive changes

There are currently more than 11 million disabled people in the UK and their spending power – ‘the purple pound’ – is worth almost £250 billion. So, the fitness industry is missing a trick in not addressing the needs of disabled people. Fortunately, they seem to be waking up to this oversight as it was reported that:

  • 95% thought working with disabled people should be included as standard in the Personal Trainer Qualification
  • 41% plan to run inclusive group exercises designed to include disabled people
  • 64% stated that it is a priority over the next 5 years to grow the proportion of disabled members

So, let’s hope these plans come to fruition and help get more disabled people exercising regularly.

If you are thinking of exercising more but are not sure where to start, why not check out our range of gym equipment specially designed for the disabled.

Read a full copy of the Future Fit report.

 

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