Championing physical activity

The Association for Dementia Studies has successfully applied for funding from the Leisure Studies Association and Active Herefordshire and Worcestershire to develop and pilot an online course on ‘Championing the role of physical activity as a leisure choice for people affected by dementia’. Although the course won’t be delivered until next year, we wanted to tell people about it now as we’re already quite excited!

Why is the course needed?

Without getting too detailed, people living with dementia, and their families and friends providing vital care and support, have long had their citizenship and human rights diminished because of the way ‘things are done’ or organised in everyday life [1]. This is no more apparent than in leisure and physical activity where people affected by dementia continue to be left out [2], despite the multiple health and well-being benefits they offer. There are a range of complex barriers for people working in sports, community, health and care settings to facilitate leisure and sports activities for people with dementia, including a lack of confidence and/or knowledge.

How will the new course help?

We believe that the course we’re developing will address these barriers and make leisure activities and sports more accessible. It will enable practitioners within various settings to feel more confident and capable in offering and facilitating opportunities for people affected by dementia to engage in sport and physical activity. Learners will develop the knowledge and skills to work with people affected by dementia within the specific context of sport and physical activity, and be encouraged to put their learning into practice.

What will the course cover?

The course will introduce learners to both the theoretical and practical aspects of delivering sport and activities as a leisure choice for people affected by dementia. It will consider the dynamics of involving family carers in physical activity sessions, as well as the anticipated benefits of social engagement and participation.

Beyond that, we can’t be too specific at the moment, as part of the course development process will involve consulting with a range of interested parties to find out what our course content should be. What skills and knowledge do professionals feel that they need? What has prevented them from delivering physical activities previously? What do people affected by dementia want to be able to do in terms of sport and physical activity? What would help them to take part in activities? What have we missed out?

Once we have talked to people, we will finalise our course content and decide which specific gaps in knowledge the course will focus on. If you would like to be considered as part of our consultation process, please contact Dr Chris Russell using the details at the end of this blog.

How will the course be delivered?

The course will be delivered online over a five-week period, with learners being expected to take part in ‘live’ sessions, discussion forums and other learning activities including video lectures that will be created specifically for the course. We do however think it’s important to have a practical element to the course, so learners will be supported to plan, deliver and report back on at least one physical activity session during the course itself.

When will I be able to take the course?

We’re aiming to deliver the pilot course in early 2022, but because it’s a pilot it won’t be open to everyone – sorry! We’ll be focusing on a relatively small group of learners to make sure the course is right, but after that – if we can find more funding – who knows? Ideally we’d like to make the course available more widely in the future, but for now we’re concentrating on the pilot. If anything changes, we’ll let you know. However, if we know that the demand is there it could help us, so please feel free to get in touch to register your interest.

The course is part of a wider project which will include an evaluation of the style of learning and content of the course. This project will inform and contribute to existing knowledge in this vital area so that physical activity as a leisure choice can become part of everyday life for as many people as possible.

If you would like any further information about this project or to make an enquiry, please contact Dr Chris Russell at


[1] Nedlund, C., Bartlett, R. and Clarke, C. (2019). Everyday Citizenship and People with Dementia. Edinburgh, Dunedin Press.

[2] Sport England (2020). We are undefeatable. Available at:

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