Blaby’s second Beat the Street game gets people moving – despite lockdown
Blaby District’s recent Beat the Street game is being hailed as a success after a new report shows improvements in activity levels for adults and children across the borough.
The game returned to Blaby District for a second time and was due to take place from 26th February to 8th April. Unfortunately, it had to be ended early on 23rd March, owing to the global Covid 19 pandemic.
Beat the Street is designed to increase physical activity levels across a community and to connect individuals with their local environment. It has taken place in more than 100 towns and cities across the UK and beyond and supports long term behaviour change by making physical activity an enjoyable, integral part of everyday life.
The free initiative saw special sensors called Beat Boxes placed on lampposts around Blaby District during the game. Participants walked, cycled and ran between these to score points for their school or workplace teams. As well as encouraging people to get more active, one of the aims of the initiative was to encourage people to consider active travel and to ditch the car and travel to work by bike or on foot.
A new report produced by Intelligent Health, the company that delivers Beat the Street, has shown that players became more physically active as a result of taking part, helping improve the health of people across Blaby District and beyond.
A total of 9,461 people – nearly 10% of the population – signed up and together walked, cycled, scooted, ran and wheeled 83,500 miles. All twenty-seven primary schools took part and 15 community teams signed up.
Participants were surveyed at the start of the game and immediately after to see if their activity habits had changed, taking lockdown into consideration. A total of 2,864 participants registered their cards at the beginning of the game, and 358 participants completed the exit survey at the end. Prior to the start of the game, 24% of adult respondents in Blaby District were physically inactive – that is, they did less than 30 minutes of physical activity per week and 20% of children were inactive (less than 30 minutes of physical activity every day).
After the Beat the Street game, there was a 13% increase in adults achieving the recommended levels of activity and an 19% increase in children. The report also shows 76% of inactive adults becoming active and a 13% increase in the proportion of adults achieving 150+ minutes of activity. Other key results from the report include a significant increase in feelings of anxiety, caused by Covid 19 and lockdown measures.
Most noticeably, there was a huge shift in behaviour for adults that engaged with the canal and river pathways throughout the scheme. For these people, following Beat the Street, there was a 24% decrease in the proportion of adults reporting being inactive and a 25% increase in the proportion achieving 150+ minutes of activity per week.
Feedback for the game as a whole was effusive and positive, with many players reporting that Beat the Street had helped encourage them to walk or cycle more often, visit new places and spend more time with their friends and family.
“I did a lot more walking and generally felt fitter and healthier for it. I socialised with a wider range of people, which I enjoyed, and I also felt that the scheme promoted community spirit and working together as a village to achieve a common goal.”
Children reported that the game had brought the family together to spend time doing exercise.
“Loved being high on the leader board and it made me bike more and scoot more”.
Bethan Elliott, head of PE at Greenfield Primary School, the school team that travelled the furthest, said: “As a school and more importantly utilising the wider community, we have embraced this healthy initiative. Children and their family members have shown amazing enthusiasm and understood the health benefits (mentally and physically) that walking, cycling, running and any other forms of exercise can impart upon them.”
Darren Farish, Sport and Physical Activity Team Leader from Blaby District Council, added: “Although the game ended early, it did encourage people to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes such as walking to school or cycling to work.”
Liz Fleuty, community engagement manager for the Canal & River Trust, added: “We’re delighted to see the impact of the Beat the Street game, particularly the clear results showing that people who spent time by the water were able to incorporate physical activity into their lifestyles.
“With research showing that time spent by the water can help us to feel happier and healthier, the canal offers everyone a great place to improve their physical and mental health. In the current lockdown our canals can still be an important lifeline for people but only if we use them responsibly and so we’re asking people to stay local, observe social distancing and avoid stretches with moored boats.”
Once lockdown was in force, organisers of the game switched their focus to #BeatTheBug which reinforced the importance of staying active to strengthen your body’s immune system, with a weekly newsletter for Beat the Street participants containing health advice and suggestions for family activities.
Participants will be invited to take part in another Beat the Street survey in July to assess the impact of the game six months on.
Beat the Street Blaby District is delivered by Intelligent Health in partnership with Blaby District Council, Choose How You Move and Canal and River Trust and uses a £3.3 million National Lottery funding grant from Sport England.