Evaluation shows GoodGym increases physical activity and wellbeing

Independant evaluation reports the benefits of GoodGym

February 04, 2022

Have your own GoodGym story to share with the community? Email getinvolved@goodgym.org and we'll be in touch.

In 2021, researchers from Ecorys undertook an evaluation analysis into the impact of GoodGym's activities. The evaluation explored outcomes for GoodGymers and older people, and found participating in GoodGym has a significant positive impact on wellbeing and physical activity.

Key findings include:

  • GoodGym increases mental wellbeing. People involved in GoodGym for a period of 4-8 months show a statistically significantly improvement in mental wellbeing.
  • GoodGym reduces social isolation for older people. Older people involved with GoodGym activities show a statistically significantly improvement in levels of social isolation
  • GoodGym reduces feelings of loneliness for older people. Older people involved with GoodGym activities showed a significant improvement in loneliness scores.
  • GoodGym increases physical activity. People reporting running longer distances and for longer periods of time due to their involvement.
  • GoodGym increases volunteering. People engaged in GoodGym show a marked increase in the amount of volunteering.

Outcomes for older people

GoodGym supports older people through social visits and completing household tasks. The evaluation found that older people involved with GoodGym feel less socially isolated, and reported an improvement in their mental wellbeing. Older people visited by GoodGymers also reported a decreased feeling of loneliness overall.

Older people are generally shown to be less socially isolated after taking part in the GoodGym initiative. There is a statistically significant improvement shown on each of the four isolation index questions.

The Warwick-Edinburgh scale for mental wellbeing was used to measure the impact on wellbeing in older people. Findings show that GoodGym has a positive impact wellbeing. There was a strong indication that the social contact provided by GoodGym is helping to improve the wellbeing of the older people participants, with a positive change across almost all of the indicators seen.

Older people reported improvements in:

  • feeling optimistic about the future
  • feeling useful
  • feeling relaxed
  • dealing with problems well
  • thinking clearly
  • feeling close to other people

Being visited by a GoodGym member also decreases feelings of isolation and loneliness in older people. Following involvement, the percentage of older people reporting often feeling lonely decreased from 32% to 24%. Average social isolation scores also improved, from a baseline of 2.18 to a level of 2.55 (where 1 is more socially isolated and 5 is less socially isolated).


GoodGym and physical activity

GoodGym sessions include running, walking and cycling combined with a physical task for a community organisation or charity.

The evaluation showed a positive increase in physical activity. Participants showed a clear indication that GoodGym encourages people to run further and for longer periods. Respondants reported they had either increased or maintained moderate levels of physical activity.


The impact of volunteering

All GoodGym sessions involve volunteering. The report shows GoodGym has a positive effect on volunteering activity over a 12 month period, which included the UK Covid-19 lockdowns. People volunteering once a week rose by 29% after joining GoodGym, while those reporting volunteering less often dropped by 38%.

GoodGym and mental wellbeing

Ecorys used the Warwick-Edinburgh scale to measure the mental wellbeing impact on older people accessing GoodGym, and those taking part as participants. The report noted a significant increase in average levels of mental wellbeing since taking part.

Average mental wellbeing scores improved from 49.1 at the baseline level to 51.2 at the follow up level. This is an average increase of 4% and a statistically significant increase. A significant proportion of the runners (41.3%) also saw a rise in their mental wellbeing score of over three points which is regarded as a meaningful level of change.

Terry, one of the many older people supported by GoodGym's work, said of the report:

"It's not surprising, I've been involved for over 10 years. I have a carer come everyday, the carer is more business-like and Zoe [my GoodGymer] is more fun, like entertainment and leisure. I look forward to the visits. You've given me good company"

Ivo Gormley, GoodGym's founder and CEO commented:

"It's heartwarming to get this external validation of our work. GoodGymers who have been supporting older people over these past few years have provided essential human contact during a very difficult time and this report gives a clear indication of what this means for wellbeing. I'm really proud of our team for the hard work that has gone into providing this support for thousands of older people. It's also great to know for certain that getting involved as a GoodGymer really does impact our wellbeing in a meaningful way. I'd like to thank all our partners without whom we wouldn't be able to do this work."

Peter Hay, GoodGym Trustee and former director of social care services to children and adults said:

“We've always known the strengths of Goodgym are in the ways it benefits members, older people and communities so that everyone’s wellbeing increases. This report demonstrates the vital contribution GoodGym makes to the communities in which it operates"


Have your own GoodGym story to share with the community? Email getinvolved@goodgym.org and we'll be in touch.
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