"I used to be as fit as a linnet" - beliefs, attitudes, and environmental supportiveness for physical activity in former mining areas in the North-East of England.
Bottom Line: Studies of geographical variations in physical activity behaviours have suggested that activity levels are particularly low in areas that have undergone employment loss associated with the decline of industry.This is of concern given that affected populations are already at risk of poor health.Particularly important was the loss of recreational facilities, public green spaces and sports facilities that were owned and organised by the miners themselves with support from the mining companies.
Affiliation: School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.Show MeSH
Mentions: Whilst there is good evidence that the populations of previously industrialised areas show lower levels of activity, the particular causal mechanisms linking socio-cultural characteristics of the post-industrial society to PA are, however, not well understood. Based on ecosocial theory (Krieger, 2001) which considers how present and historical physical, social and cultural conditions impact population patterns of health, we recently developed a conceptual framework linking PA to socio-cultural dimensions of industrial decline (Rind and Jones, 2014) (see Fig. 1). It considers the decline of labour-intensive jobs as a direct pathway which, if not counterbalanced by an increase of PA within other activity domains, will lead to overall activity declines in those areas affected. The effects of losses of work related PA may be particularly strongly felt if areas of industrial decline hold inherited cultures and regional identities that are resistant to change and the adoption of alternative PA behaviours. Indeed, in the late 1940s Ferdynand Zweig (1948) published a detailed portrayal of English pitmen, writing that “The force of habit is nowhere stronger than in the colliery and the mining village. A change of habits is most difficult to accomplish, even if the change proves beneficial and the habit has no longer a functional value.” (Zweig, 1948: 8). This raises the question as to the capacity of these communities to adapt to the very substantial changes to the social and physical environment that have been associated with the loss of such industries.
Affiliation: School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ, UK.