WITH sport now moving back on track for most people, it is quite uplifting trawling through social media and reading the posts from various individuals and sports, sharing their joy at “being back again”. A lot of sports did adapt and offer an online service, which was a lifeline in the early and dark days of the pandemic, but as most of us know, the social interaction of actually being in the same space as other people, for them, is an important part of being a regular participant in sport.

Lockdown for many people took away their freedom as we were bound by rules that had to be adhered to, which kept us safe and impacted our everyday life, which prevented us meeting with friends or attending a gym class or joining in with our favourite sport.

Yet for some, going online offered them more than they could have imagined in terms of being physically active. For women in particular, time constraints and perhaps financial pressures can prevent them from getting involved in sport – this, alongside a lack of confidence and safety worries, meant that exercising from the comfort of their home was a perfect introduction into physical activity. For many women who have shied away from sport and activity, this was their first taste of it. However, they may not yet be ready to take the next step and take their exercise outside the home.

Research from St Mary’s University highlights disturbing experiences for female runners, showing more than 80% experienced street harassment. This consisted of catcalls, propositioning, name calling and non-verbal expressions like wolf whistles or winking. Sadly, it got a lot more sinister, with a number of participants reporting more extreme forms of harassment, like being groped or physically attacked. In fact, 30% of female runners reported having been followed by somebody either on foot or in a car. Unfortunately, statistics show that women remain more vulnerable to this type of abuse than men.

Safe places and safe spaces should not need to be created for women – they should be the norm and for everyone to enjoy. These figures reflect the experience of women in London. In Scotland women will not be immune to this behaviour and this is another reason why it can be difficult to encourage women to get involved in sport.