Evidence shows that being physically active reduces the risk of developing a range of medical conditions, including diabetes, cancer, dementia, strokes, heart disease and depression 

One in four people in England do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week, even though the Chief Medical Officer guidelines are 60 minutes a day for children and young people or 150 minutes a week for adults. 

Research shows that those who do the least activity stand to benefit the most and that there are certain groups in society who are much more likely to be inactive: 

  • Disabled people 
  • Women and girls 
  • People from lower socio-economic groups 
  • BAME people

AoC Sport is committed to tackling inequalities by working with colleges and partners to promote, support and deliver physical activity opportunities. 

British Active Students Survey

We worked with ukactive to produce the British Active Students Survey: Further Education 2019/20 report, in partnership with ukactive, Sport England and Matrix Fitness.

This surveyed 7,169 students (aged 16 and over) from 107 college on their physical activity levels, as well as various measures of mental wellbeing.

Key findings:

  • 64.8% of FE students are classified as being active
  • Personal and mental wellbeing were highest for students who engaged in regular physical activity.
  • 51% of active students had confidence in finding employment six months after leaving college, compared to just 43% of inactive students
  • More active students predict their academic attainment to be higher than those classified as less active.
  • Active students had higher life satisfaction, felt more worthwhile and had higher happiness levels
  • Students indicated that the biggest motivator to take part in physical activity was to look after their health. The largest barrier in participation was being too busy with studies.

The report calls for college and university students to be given more support to increase their physical activity levels, and that this is a responsibility that is shared between the educational institutions, policy makers and welfare organisations.

Download the report below

What works in schools and colleges to increase physical activity? 

We have worked with Public Health England, Youth Sport Trust and a range of other partners to develop this resource for college principals, head teachersstaff working in education settings or public health, as well as wider partners. 

The resource was created in 2015 and updated in 2019. The resource brings together key guidance and policy documents on increasing physical activity alongside examples, to support colleges to develop and implement effective evidence-based approaches utilising eight key principles.   

Download the report below

Chief Medical Officer Guidelines 

We represented the FE sector by engaging in multiple consultation processes for the Chief Medical Officer physical activity guidelines updated in 2019. The guidelines are evidence based and highlight the amount and type of exercise to different age groups as well as specific advice for disabled adults 

Mental Health  

One in four people will experience a mental health problem each year, with 50% of mental health problems established by age 14 and 75% by age 24. Research by the New Economics Foundation has shown that being active is one of the five ways to wellbeing

We therefore promote the benefits of physical activity on mental wellbeing and encourage colleges to include this in their support offer for students with mental health problems. We do this in a variety of ways including: 

  • Supporting campaigns e.g. World Mental Health Day, Mental Health Awareness Week  
  • Developing and sharing resources  
  • Sharing good practice from colleges 
  • Delivering Mental Health First Aid training.  

AoC Sport is represented on the AoC Mental Health Policy Group and has supported the work of group including the AoC Mental Health and Wellbeing Charter We are also a signatory of the Mental Health Charter for Sport and Recreation  

Mind Operational Partner 

AoC Sport has been selected by Mind to be an operational partner (April 2020 – March 2021). Click the link to find out more about the partnership and how colleges can get involved.   

Improving mental wellbeing in colleges through physical activity 

In 2018 we published a report based on data collected from 15 colleges that supported students with mental health problems or low levels of mental wellbeing to become more active. The results showed that 70% of participants who had an increase in activity levels had a positive change in their wellbeing score.  

Download the report below

Further reading, research and resources

Further information