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Carnegie School of Sport partnership
Get Set Leeds
Inspiring people through sport, our latest partnership is centred around a Council-led project called Get Set Leeds (GSL). In GSL we work on increasing physical activity within everyday life, for example walking to the supermarket, cycling (rather than driving) or making a conscious effort to take a certain number of steps per day.
For GSL, we’re working closely with the Council to implement a citywide approach. Using the Carnegie School of Sports’ (CSS) expertise, our staff developed a multi-layered approach to identify key influences on daily physical activity.
This started with auditing what the city already offers in support of physical activity and where it can improve. At CSS we wanted to find out more about Leeds and the nitty-gritty of its infrastructure, for example, is there room for parents to push a pram along the pavement? Is there easy access to shops without crossing too many busy roads? Looking at the city from this angle allows us to see where individuals can easily integrate more walking into daily life. Central to our approach is to make physical activity easy for more people.
Impact of our partnership
For us at the Carnegie School of Sport, the insights generated by speaking to the Council and communities it supports has proved invaluable. Now, the Get Set Leeds report has been released. That report looks at not only at the benefits of increasing physical activity in everyday life, but also which individual, social and environmental factors best predict optimal levels of physical activity in Leeds. This project allowed our staff and students to improve the conversation around the topic, and to understand what works for real people, in real situations. The partnership allowed us to reach over 4000 people living and working in Leeds; the scale of their contributions was vital for conducting the fine-grained analysis we report in the GSL report.
This type of work is done through Leeds City Council, as they have direct access to the neighbourhoods. As well as understanding what the City needs to offer, our staff work with Council officers to build programmes that create confidence about being physically active more often. We also work together to create a social buzz around physical activity, encouraging people to be excited about joining in.
Research with impact
The way we have worked throughout the partnership has also allowed Leeds Beckett’s Masters’ and PhD students to approach this type of work from a real-life perspective, rather than through research done purely in an academic setting. It’s also given the PhD students the opportunity to contribute and become named authors on the report.
A better future
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, where many people have got into new routines and habits; for many, lockdown resulted in decreased physical activity. Not walking to work, not being able to go to the gym and other restrictions on daily life have meant that many people have become deconditioned. Perversely, deconditioning makes resuming physical activity more difficult. This, in turn, risks undermining mental health. For older people, their independence is at risk through lost mobility. Seen in those terms, our work will be even more important as we all ‘build back better’.