Sport England survey highlights record level of physical activity

The highest ever levels of activity have been recorded by Sport England’s latest Active Lives Adult Survey.

Covering the 12 months from May 2018 to May 2019, one million more people aged 16+ are being physically active than when the survey began in 2015.

In the FE sector, there has been a 2.1% increase in students classed as active (150+ minutes per week) and a 2.7% decrease in inactive students (less than 30 minutes per week).

The report also highlights the contribution made by volunteers, and the wider impact of taking part in sport and physical activity on mental wellbeing and community development.

These outcomes also reflect AoC Sport’s findings from the British Active Students Survey 2018-19, which also recognised the positive impact on employability and attainment.

There are still audiences that are seeing significant change and where a continued, collaborative focus is needed so that everyone can benefit from the positive impact of sport and physical activity.

In particular, those from less affluent families and those from Black and Asian backgrounds continue to be less active.

At AoC Sport we are developing two projects aimed at this group, one focused on social mobility and a second project using sport as a vehicle to reduce youth violence. More information is available from Policy Manager Matt Rhodes

Overall volunteering levels remain unchanged over the last 12 months but there has been a slight increase in FE students volunteering.

AoC Sport is committed to helping colleges grow their volunteering offer and increase the diversity of volunteers, which is why we launched the AoC Sport Leadership Academy. This offers a range of opportunities for students to learn vital skills which will help them in education and employment.

Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England’s Chief Executive, was encouraged by the new data.

He said: “It’s really excellent news that a record number of people are now active every week and that we’re also seeing a significant decrease in the amount of inactive people.

“It shows us that efforts to help more people get active are starting to make a real difference, particularly for older adults, women and those with a disability or long-term health condition.”

Other notable findings from the report show:

  • Based on data gathered from 180,000 respondents (aged 16+) in the 12 months from May 2018 to May 2019, 1,015,700 more people are active compared to when the survey started, in 2015.
  • That takes the total number of active people – those doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week – up to 28.6 million.
  • The number of inactive people – doing fewer than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week – is down to 11.2 million, a decrease of 131,700 since 2015 and the lowest figure ever recorded by the survey.
  • People who are less affluent are the most likely to be inactive (33%) and the least likely to be active (54%) compared to those who are the most well-off – who are 16% inactive and 72% active.
  • A complex backdrop of economic and health inequalities magnifies the impact of barriers to getting active felt by all, such as confidence or knowing where to go, through to cost, lack of time and appropriate opportunity.
  • Walking for leisure or travel remains the most popular activity, with 477,800 more people walking for travel (15,247,600 in total) and 514,000 more walking for leisure (19,162,200).
  • Fitness activities are becoming even more popular, especially for women and those in older groups, with 398,000 more people taking part (13,766,300 in total). Weight sessions are increasingly popular, with this type of fitness being easily adapted for different groups, e.g. strength and balance for older people.
  • Yoga and Pilates continue to grow in popularity.
  • Racket sports continue to decrease in popularity with 111,400 fewer people taking part.
  • Netball enjoyed a growth in popularity with 50,200 more people taking part (319,400 in total), with a diverse audience of younger and older women attracted through grassroots programmes like Back to Netball.


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