Women’s health and fitness most at risk if leisure facilities stay closed

Ongoing closures of gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres are “disproportionately” affecting women, according to Sport England, which warns gender inequalities have been exacerbated by lockdown.

The Government-formed body expressed concern to MPs that the clock is being turned back after women’s sporting participation was boosted by last year’s football, netball and cricket world cups.

Activity levels were at record highs pre lockdown, but “less women than men” have been able to be active as families were placed under pressure by Covid-19.

“We’ve seen an exacerbation of inequalities that existed before lockdown,” said Alison Donnelly, executive director of communications and marketing at Sport England.

The Commons’ Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee praised Donnelly over the Sport England-backed This Girl Can campaign, which was first developed in 2015 to promote sport and activity among women, and since then has inspired four million women to act.

“In terms of

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Welcome to your Covid-friendly health club (sorry, the changing rooms are closed)

Beatrice J. Doty
Health clubs will have to undergo a quiet transformation to be Covid secure - Captain Z for The Telegraph
Health clubs will have to undergo a quiet transformation to be Covid secure – Captain Z for The Telegraph

Barriers around the treadmill, a ban on handshakes, and a one-way system into the children’s ball pool – is this how the health club of the near-future will look? 

Indoor leisure centres in the UK have been shut since late March, due to the pandemic, but there is hope that some in England could start to reopen as early as next month. In Scotland, health cubs will reopen once the country has reached Phase Three of its lockdown plan, whilst Wales and Northern Ireland will reopen indoor gyms and swimming pools once they are at Step Four.

David Lloyd, which runs 115 leisure centres across the UK, this week announced the launch of a new series of “specially developed” outdoor fitness classes, including cycling, “Blaze” (a type of high-intensity interval training),

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