A quarter of adults living with a long-term health condition have admitted they are afraid to leave the house as Covid-19 restrictions are loosened

  • We Are Undefeatable campaign announces various measures to help many of the 43% of people in England who are living with a health condition to be active

New research launching today reveals the true scale that lockdown lifting is having on people with long term health conditions, including those with cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s, arthritis or mental illness.[1]55% of people report feeling anxious about lockdown lifting, with a quarter saying that they are still afraid to leave the house, and 1 in 5 admitting to not leaving their home since mid-March – except for emergencies.[2]

Two-thirds of people living with long-term health conditions say that getting outdoors for physical activity is crucial for their mental health. However, whilst many of the general population are excited about restrictions being lifted and are contemplating what else is still due to open, unfortunately a quarter of people living with a health condition say that they will not return to communal sport and leisure centres until there is a vaccine, or Covid-19 is no longer a threat in the UK.

The research was commissioned by We Are Undefeatable, a campaign led by a collaboration of 15 leading health and social care charities, along with National Lottery funding and expertise from Sport England, to support and inspire some of the 43% of people in England who live with a health condition to be active in a way that works with their condition.

We Are Undefeatable is today launching various new digital tools, including a new library of customisable mini workouts that are perfect for starting out with a new activity and a virtual assistant tool on social media to help with activity planning and motivation.

In addition, they will be piloting the first ever virtual walking football team, coached by England’s Walking Football Manager, Stuart Langworthy, and a virtual dance group, both of which will be made up of people living with long-term health conditions (further information about all of these below).


Dr Zoe Williams: How to adjust to life after lockdown if you live with a long-term health condition

To help people living with a health condition adjust to life both mentally and physically after lockdown,We Are Undefeatable has also enlisted the support of Dr Zoe Williams, practicing NHS GP and resident doctor on This Morning.

Dr Zoe Williams said: “It’s no surprise that people living with health conditions have concerns and feel anxious about how safe it is for them to get back to normal life. This is to be expected, as we have been told that people with certain health conditions must stay at home and this is especially true for those in the shielding group. My top tips would be:


  1. Be kind to yourself, and remind yourself ‘it’s no wonder that this is scary”. Take gradual steps, so start with something that feels relatively safe, such as an outdoor walk in an open space. If doing this, consider wearing a face covering, as a reminder to others that you respect social distancing.
  2. When the time is right, and you feel comfortable to go to shops, cafes, the hairdresser, consider going at quieter times, such as the start of end of the day.
  3. Alternatively, there are many things that people can do at home, remember anything that is movement counts. Housework, seated exercises on the sofa, squats at the kitchen bench whilst waiting for the kettle to boil through to yoga and stretching. It all counts, it’s just a case of finding what is best suited to you and doing what you can on the days that you feel well enough.”

New measures to help people with health conditions

We Are Undefeatable understands that for those living with a health condition, how you feel can change day to day. To help people find ways to get active that works for them and their condition, We Are Undefeatable has also launched the following tools:

5in5 – starting a new activity can be scary. 5in5 is an easy to try and customisable mini work-out to help people living with health conditions explore what may work for them. Users can choose five individual exercises from the exercise library, which you do for one minute at a time. The library will include four categories to choose from depending how you feel; warming up, stress-busting, mood-boosting, and exercises with accessories.

My Daily Undefeatable – a virtual assistant tool, hosted on Facebook messenger that will check in with people to see how they’re feeling, physically and emotionally, as well as how they are keeping active. Users can answer questions about what motivates them to keep moving, and then schedule reminders to check-in on a daily or weekly basis

Ways to be Active at Home – a printed booklet showing ways for people to be active at home will also be sent out to 300,000 people across England to encourage those who are not able to access the online tools to do more physical activity where possible

Virtual walking football and dance teams

A virtual walking football team and a dance group have been brought together to get active online under the guidance of two coaches.

The team members, made up of people who are living with long-term health conditions, and their coaches will meet virtually to learn a routine, and build new skills, whilst being part of a community that supports and inspires each other.

The sessions will be for a range of abilities – from beginners who want to give dance or walking football a try, to those who enjoy dancing around in their homes or kicking a ball with friends, and those who may already be part of a team or group.

England’s Walking Football Manager, Stuart Langworthy will be coaching the first ever virtual walking football team specifically for people living with a health condition.

A variety of exercises and drills will be suggested to players, dependent upon their level of fitness and ability. They will encourage players to be comfortable on the ball and will include control, passing, turning, shooting and dribbling. Stuart will also be asking players to ‘donate’ keepy-uppies to a challenge in aid of the 7.1 million key workers. A key element will also be to build team spirit.

A virtual dance squad will be led by independent dance teacher, Katie Mason, who specialises in dance classes for people with restricted mobility, various health conditions and/or limited space at home. Katie also runs regular weekly dance and health sessions for a number of professional dance companies in London.

Both programmes will run for an initial pilot period of 10 weeks, with the aim of broadening out to more teams and disciplines. They will both be overseen by Dr Zoe Williams.

Each team’s progress, along with helpful tips and advice from the coaches will also be shared on We Are Undefeatable’s social channels (Twitter, Instagram and Facebook) so people can join in at home.

Stuart Langworthy, England Over 60’s Walking Football Manager said: “Whether you are already part of a team but don’t feel comfortable about returning just yet, or you simply want to find a new way to get active with a group of like-minded people, these sessions will be a great way to have fun and keep moving in your own space. We hope that the sessions will not only help people stay active and motivated, but also ensure that people don’t feel alone with their condition and can help forge connections with other people who may be feeling the same way. We will aim to use the social media to build a good team spirit as well as providing activities suitable for each member. Walking football has literally changed many people’s lives – it has given many a new lease of life – not just in terms of the physical benefits of playing for an hour or two each week, but also the mental health benefits of being part of a team – having fun. Those who have returned recently have commented on how they have missed the banter, which is such an important part of all football. – Fun, Friendship, Fitness – that’s what it is all about.”

We Are Undefeatable’s new TV advert airs on Tuesday and shows people navigating the ups and downs of managing their condition, and finding ways to get moving in these unusual times. To view, please request a link.

For further advice and inspiration on ways to move that may suit you depending on how you are feeling, visit the We Are Undefeatable website and You Tube playlist for ideas for keeping active in and around the home and signposting to free resources.


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