Record numbers of people are getting physically active

Thursday 11th April 2019

Based on data gathered from November 2017-November 2018, a total of 498,100 more people (aged 16+) are meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week compared to 12 months ago.

In addition to the increase in people classed as active, the number of inactive adults – those doing fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a week – has reduced by 185,000.

These figures mean that 62.6% of the adult population are now classed as active, with 25.1% now inactive.

Our research also shows that enjoyment is the biggest motivator for the active while, for those who are not active, perceived ability has the biggest impact on how much they do.

Gender gap narrows

The results, based on a sample of 180,000 people, show specific increases in the number of active women, with a year-on-year increase of 286,000 thanks in part to efforts across the sport and physical activity sector to appeal to women. It means the gender gap between active men and women has narrowed by over 90,000.

Figures also show an increase of 133,200 in the number of disabled people and those with long-term health conditions classed as active – the first increase in this category since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games – with gym sessions showing the biggest growth.

Retired people are also getting active, with retirees specifically leading to a decrease in the number of 55+ adults classed as inactive.

Despite these positive results, stubborn inequalities still remain with women and people from lower-socio economic groups significantly less likely to be active than those from higher-socio economic groups.

Things are moving in the right direction, however, stubborn inequalities remain which show that sport and physical activity still isn’t appealing to everyone,” said our chief executive Tim Hollingsworth.

“It isn’t right or fair that people on a low income, women and black and South Asian people are still less likely to be active. We’re working hard to address that across all of our programmes, with a new stage of the This Girl Can campaign, Fit Got Real, just one example.

“We urge all sport and physical activity providers to think about the practical steps they can take to make their sports more welcoming and inclusive to all.”

The Local Picture

Results at a county level show limited movement in activity levels however a number of local authorities have experienced positive directions of travel.  East Staffordshire now has 63.3% of people reaching the CMO guidelines of 150 minutes a week which is higher than the national average of 62.2%.  East Staffordshire has also witnessed a ‘significant decrease’ in the number of people who are inactive reporting a figure of 22.4% once again more favourable than the national average of 25.1%.  Improvements have also been seen in Lichfield where there has been an increase in the number of people being ‘fairly active’ and Cannock, Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford and Newcastle-under-Lyme have all seen reductions in the number of ‘inactive’ people.  For more information on the local results view the data in the report below.

Click the image below to view the report.


Active Lives 2019 front cover