New research has revealed how UK families will cut down on family fitness and leisure activities over the winter and Christmas holidays due to the cost of living crisis. Over half of those impacted (52%) believe this will have a negative impact on their mental well-being, social interactions, physical health and quality of life.
Better, the UK’s leading leisure operator, surveyed over 500 UK families to understand the cut-backs they are making on recreational activities over the next few months and revealed that a third (33%) will be spending less on family and children’s activities this year compared to last year.
As a result, 66% are looking or planning to look for free and cheap activities to help keep their families active and entertained while also saving money.
While 25% said they are cutting back on the gym, sports club or leisure centre memberships, other cut-backs are also being made due to the cost of living. For example, 41% said they are reducing takeaway meals, 35% will skip festive meals, and 31% will avoid New Year’s shopping sprees.
The research also explored the worrying state of local leisure services and sports clubs that families rely upon. 64% said they believe local swimming pools, community sports, and leisure centres need more support from the government.
With 39% of families saying they know a local sports club or leisure centre that is reducing its opening times and 33% saying they know a local sports club closing this winter, it is clear many are concerned about the future of their community sports, leisure and recreational facilities, which currently help them stay mentally and physically healthy.
The research highlights the challenges faced by UK families as costs rise. In response, Better has created an ultimate list of kids and family activities for under £10 that can be taken up to keep costs low but activity levels high this winter.
From £1 swimming sessions to junior gym and fitness classes to trampolining, indoor climbing and racquet sports, Better leisure centres and libraries offer a range of cheap and free activities to help families throughout the winter.
Leanna Simpson, a working mother of two in Hampshire, has cut back on personal expenses so her children can attend weekly activities. She said: “As a mum, you want to give your children everything they need. But even though I’m at work and my partner is working full-time, we’re still struggling to make ends meet. It costs £120 a week to feed my family freshly cooked meals. On top of that are the household bills, keeping the car running and the kids’ clubs. It’s just so expensive.”
Better’s commercial director Joe Rham commented: “Staying active has been shown time and again to be hugely beneficial to people’s well-being, both physically and mentally, and no one should be forced to cut down on such activities due to the rising cost of living. Health and fitness should be available to everyone. Unfortunately, our research shows that many families are in danger of being left behind while keeping active this winter.”
“It’s essential to Better that our facilities remain accessible to everyone and continue to provide opportunities for physical and social activities, which is why we want to make as many people as possible aware of the low cost and free activities available to families.”