The Active Lives Survey shows more disabled people becoming active

Sport England has published the latest official statistics from the Active Lives Survey, the most comprehensive snapshot of the nation’s sport and physical activity habits, based on a sample of almost 180,000 respondents. The report also shows a positive increase for disabled people.

  • Survey shows highest number of active people ever recorded and lowest ever level of people doing less than 30 minutes of activity a week.
  • Improvements driven by women and older adults.
  • Active people report higher levels of mental wellbeing and are more likely to be satisfied with their life, feel happier and less anxious.
  • Those benefits are still less likely to be accessed by less affluent people, where lower activity and higher inactivity rates remain.

The results show the highest level of activity ever recorded – 1,015,700 million more people are active now, compared to when the survey started in 2015. Active means meeting the Chief Medical Officer’s recommended amount of 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week.

The report also makes clear the mental health benefits of being active. When asked to rate their mental health on a scale of 0-10, active people reported feeling:

  • More satisfied with their lives.
  • Happier.
  • More likely to feel the things they do in life are worthwhile.
  • Less anxious.

Spanning the period May 2018 – May 2019, the survey also shows that the number of adults doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week has decreased by 131,700 since 2015.

The decreasing inactivity levels are driven by women and adults aged 55 and over. These are groups that Sport England has focussed on in its strategy Towards an Active Nation with campaigns such as This Girl Can, a £10 million fund for projects that support people 55 and over to get active.

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive at Sport England 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.

“But we can’t be complacent. Within the overall positive picture of these figures is a sobering reality – if you are well-off you are far more likely to be active than if you’re on a low income or less affluent.

“While there are complex barriers that stop less well-off people from getting active, this is an unacceptable inequality and one we’re starting to address in the work we are doing across the country – including piloting programmes in 12 local areas to tackle inequality.

“Being active has positive benefits for mental and physical wellbeing, strengthens communities and helps build confidence and resilience. We urge anyone working towards helping people live healthier lives – whether that’s government policy makers or health professionals – to consider physical activity as a vehicle to help drive positive outcomes, so that everyone can benefit.”

The Active Lives Survey showed for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions:
An increase in activity levels (216,300 more) and a decrease in inactivity levels (107,800 fewer) amongst disabled people or people with long-term health conditions, showing efforts to support these groups are working.

However, they are still twice as likely to be inactive than non-disabled people, so work continues to support and inspire people into physical activity. This includes the new campaign We Are Undefeatable, which Cerebral Palsy Sport has promoted and led by 15 of the leading health and social care charities and backed with National Lottery funding and expertise by Sport England.

Cerebral Palsy Sport’s Start and Stay Active project is funded by Sport England to enable more people with cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities to become more active. Learn more about the project here