Women in Sport to issue guidance on maintaining winter participation
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Women in Sport to issue guidance on maintaining winter participation

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Women in Sport is attempting to counter female physical activity drop-off rates during the winter months by issuing recommendations to its partners following an extensive piece of insight work.

Sixteen women recorded digital diaries before and after participation in the winter for the body’s latest project, followed by workshops and a larger online survey undertaken by 400 women aged 16 to 64 who have been active in the last 12 months.

The top barrier to participation, according to the insight, was the weather, with 31 per cent of those surveyed put off by the colder conditions. Poor weather was grouped into one of three overarching categories – environmental, cultural and motivational.

Grouped together, cultural barriers such as increased social commitments and shopping during the Christmas period were responsible for the largest proportion of women dropping out (56 per cent), while 45 per cent cited environmental factors such as the lack of daylight. Six per cent of women said they stopped because of safety concerns.

In response, the equality body is set to discuss a range of solutions with its partners including initiatives such as goal setting to retain participant interest, events which embrace winter challenges and shorter sessions or lunchtime classes. Targeted marketing in the winter months and building communities to add a social element to physical activity will also be recommended.

“We’re at the final stages of the insight process,” Women in Sport insight manager Laura Matthews told delegates at the organisation’s Insight Series in London. “We’ll be working with partners on this, putting interventions into practice.”

Women in Sport’s full report on winter drop off will be published in the next few weeks.

The project builds on research collected via Sport England’s Active People Survey between October 2012 and September 2014, which revealed that while men and women both struggled to maintain sports participation during the colder months, the latter dropped off more extensively and found it more of a challenge to get back into the groove.

Data also shows that older women are most prone to dropping out, with 35 per cent more 35+ women likely to give up physical activity during late autumn or winter.

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Women in Sport is attempting to counter female physical activity drop-off rates during the winter months by issuing recommendations to its partners following an extensive piece of insight work.
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