Community / Survey results reveal barriers to keeping active

A LACK of motivation, time and childcare – as well as poor weather – are among the key barriers to people in Shetland keeping active, a survey has revealed.

The survey was carried out last summer and it received more than 1,400 responses.

Shetland residents – both adults and school pupils – were asked to share details about their physical activity levels, preferences and ideas.

The surveys were created by an Active Shetland Strategy working group.

The strategy aims to “make Shetland the most active community in Scotland”, and includes representatives from Shetland Islands Council, Shetland Recreational Trust, NHS Shetland, Ability Shetland and ZetTrans.

More than half of the adult survey respondents indicated that a lack of time limited their participation in physical activity, and 47 per cent stated that a lack of motivation was a barrier to being active.

Having other priorities and a lack of childcare were also commonly selected reasons that limited activity levels.


For school pupils, poor weather was the most selected barrier to participation, closely followed by a lack of time (35 per cent) and a lack of motivation (21 per cent).

Survey respondents were also asked to select potential improvements that could increase their activity levels.

For adults, the most commonly selected choice was improved paths and suitable routes for cycling and walking. 

Most frequently selected improvements also included activities that were beginner-focused, cheaper, family-friendly and closer to home.

For children, the most popular improvement was activities closer to home, followed closely by family activities, reduced costs and more focus on fun.

As well as giving information on barriers to activity and ways to reduce them, the surveys also gave insight into the respondents’ current physical activity levels and how the pandemic had impacted them, the main motivations for being active, and information about the ways in which people preferred to be active.

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Using the information from the survey results, the working group has initially decided on five main actions for 2022.

They are:

  • Deliver workplace and schools campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles, including supporting schools to complete the School Sport Award
  • Create family-orientated and fun-focused activities for all in two rural areas
  • Develop and expand walking group opportunities for all in Shetland
  • Engage with a variety of groups, including youth groups, to better understand barriers to being active
  • Promote new and existing opportunities for younger and older people to be active, including SRT’s new subscription and Access to Leisure schemes.

Louise Johnson of Shetland Islands Council’s sport and leisure service said: “We are happy with the number of responses to our lifestyle survey and we’d like to thank everyone who took part.

“We have used their input to create an Action Plan for moving forward, and we look forward to working together as a partnership to deliver some new projects and activities that we hope will help to reduce some of the local barriers that have been identified.”

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