Repository logo

"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.

Change log


Rind, Esther 
Jones, Andy 


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. Applying focus group methodology amongst 19 participants in four groups, this study aims to unpack how broader societal and environmental changes associated with industrial decline affect beliefs and attitudes towards physical activity in ex-mining communities in the North-East of England. Identified core themes comprise the direct impact of deindustrialisation on social and physical environments. Based on our findings, we provide evidence for mechanisms that operate via loss of occupational physical activity as well as the progressive development of environments that are not fit to support population activity levels. 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. Attitudes and beliefs directly related to the areas' industrial past were also seen to be key. We suggest that the development of interventions considering the socio-cultural history and socio-economic reality of communities could be a promising route to encourage more active lifestyles in deprived areas with particularly low levels of physical activity.



Changing social and physical environments, England, Focus groups, Former mining communities, Industrial decline, Physical activity, Aged, Attitude to Health, Coal Mining, England, Environment, Exercise, Female, Focus Groups, Health Status Disparities, Humans, Life Style, Male, Socioeconomic Factors

Journal Title

Soc Sci Med

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Elsevier BV
Medical Research Council (MR/K023187/1)
Economic and Social Research Council (ES/G007462/1)
Wellcome Trust (087636/Z/08/Z)
Esther Rindwas a doctoral candidate and funded by a joint MRC/ ESRC Interdisciplinary Studentship and a Scholarship from the School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia. The work of Esther Rind and Andy Jones was supported by the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), a UKCRC Public Health Research Centre of Excellence. Funding from the British Heart Foundation, Department of Health, Economic and Social Research Council, Medical Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust, under the auspices of the UK Clinical Research Collaboration, is gratefully acknowledged. Many thanks to the representatives of the Working Men's Club and Institute Union of the Durham Branch for their support, and we particularly thank all study participants for their warm welcome and contributions.