Like many areas of carers’ lives, there is a clear difference between the physical activity levels of carers and those without caring responsibilities, as carers face many barriers which prevent them from prioritising their own health and wellbeing.
Being physically active can help your mind as well as your body – it can help you to cope with the immense challenges of being a carer."
Through Sport England and National Lottery funding, Carers UK’s Carers Active project The project sees Carers UK working with carers, organisations, and professionals to:
- Continue to help carers become more physically active and improve health and wellbeing, especially to reduce loneliness.
- Raise awareness of the benefits of physical activity and ways to address barriers.
- Increase opportunities for carers to access a range of different physical activities.
- Raise the profile of physical activity and carers, encourage positive action to make physical activity more possible for carers, fitting in with their needs, as well as deliver support directly to carers, through session delivery and volunteer involvement.
Our report ‘Carers and Physical Activity' (2021) found that unpaid carers face significant challenges in being physically active, despite 87% wanting ‘to be fitter than I am’.
We also know that mental and physical wellbeing can be improved as a result of regular physical activity. Yet carers are much less likely to be active (14% of carers compared with 54% of all adults). There are barriers and factors which impact carers’ ability to undertake all forms of physical activity, for example 88% of carers report not having the time to take part in physical activity. Other barriers include guilt, anxiety, tiredness, injury or illness. They also include a lack of understanding about how much and which types of physical activity to do to maintain health and wellbeing. Addressing these barriers is a key aim of the Carers Active project.
Carers that are able to be active say that they feel less lonely, have increased life satisfaction and reduced anxiety.
Insight with carers into barriers from a behaviour change perspective showed:
- Capability is increased when carers have the knowledge about what activity they should be doing, confidence to put themselves first and understanding of what works for them.
- Opportunity is affected by a lack of time including a lack of control over their time and the unpredictability of their lives but can be increased with tailored activities to overcome the barriers as well as social cues and a supportive community that encourage them to take part.
- Motivation levels might be low to start with but can be positively influenced by the relief and mental break they find it gives them.
Carers Active April
Carers Active April, which launched for the first time in 2022, is a new campaign to raise awareness of the importance physical activity for carers, highlight the benefits to carers of moving more. The annual campaign has been set up to highlight that carers should be able to access and engage with activity that is achievable, accessible, and affordable. In the lead up to and during the campaign month, we encourage organisations and individuals to get behind Carers Active April in a range of different ways.
Resources for Carers
On the Carers Active Hub section of our website, carers can find a wide range of information, advice and resources to help with being more physically active as well as access activity video sessions and read about carers’ physical activity experiences.
Ideas and inspiration for how carers can be supported to be more physically active
Carers UK runs a number of physical activity sessions for carers each month. Click below to see the activities currently available.
Recordings of previous Carers Active online sessions can be accessed by carers at any time via the button below.
Our 'Carers and Physical Activity' report contains a number of different case studies of work that supports carers to be physically active. Carers and professionals can find more ideas for inspiration here.
If you have any questions about this project, please contact the Carers Active Project Manager – Patrick Knock Patrick.email@example.com