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OPINION

WAVEBREAKMEDIA/SHUTTERSTOCK

New research A recent research paper called The contribution of leisure centre usage to physical activity in the United Kingdom: evidence from a large population-based cohort, published this year in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, concluded that leisure centres do make a valuable contribution to health, saying: “In this large population-based study, our results demonstrated that the provision of local authority leisure centres contributed a median of 55 minutes of moderate/vigorous leisure-time physical activity per week to the recommended 150 minutes of moderate/vigorous physical activity per week. “This means local authority leisure centre members achieve approximately a third of the World Health Organization’s recommended 150 minutes of moderate/vigorous weekly physical activity through leisure centre use. “This is an important contribution, which should be combined with an encouragement for users to be active in other environments to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity.” But they also found that: “Those from more deprived areas were less likely to access local authority leisure centres. As [they] have potentially less disposable income, 82

Issue 5 2021 ©Cybertrek 2021

Leisure centres contribute 55 minutes of the recommended 150 minutes of exercise each week

it’s possible that price is a contributing barrier to access, but we were unable to examine the effect of concession pricing, since the trust made changes to its concessionary access scheme in the period covered by the data extract. “This was further complicated by the way memberships were tagged in the reporting systems, with the term ‘concessionary’ applied to any discounted membership, rather than just to those on low incomes or who were registered disabled. “Pricing in the local authority leisure sector to encourage use by targeted groups is complex. Quantitative studies have reported that offering free memberships can increase participation but that if free use is removed, usage is not always maintained. “Of interest in the current study, the majority of exercise referral usage was on a pay-as-yougo basis. Given that those who took out prepaid/ monthly memberships used the centres for a

Profile for Leisure Media

HCM Issue 5 2021  

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