Recent figures obtained as part of Sport England’s Active People Survey reveal that, despite widespread concern regarding obesity levels, the number of residents in England who are engaging in weekly sport is rising. Between April 2013 and April 2014, 15.6 million individuals aged 16 or older participated in at least one half-hour session of exercise every week, compared to 13.9 million nine years ago. The increase in sporting activity since 2005 is shown in the chart below.
Data is also available at a regional level: this indicates that residents in the South East, London and the South West are most likely to exercise regularly (36.9%, 36.7% and 36.7% respectively), while those living in the West Midlands, East Midlands and North East are least likely to do so (33%, 34.2% and 34.4% respectively). Other regional differences are illustrated in the chart below.
Despite having the highest proportion of residents who exercise regularly, the South East has seen the smallest increase in exercise rates since 2005/6: the figure seen in 2013/14 is just 0.2 percentage points higher than that recorded in 2005/6. Other regions which have only seen small increases over this period are the East of England and the East Midlands (0.5 and 0.6 percentage points respectively). In contrast, the South West and North West have seen much larger increases (2.9 and 1.8 percentage points since 2005/6).
Data is also available at local authority level, allowing councils to identify trends in activity rates in their local area. At national level, the data has also been broken down by type of activity and by demographic group: this information could perhaps be used to identify the sports with the highest growth rates, and therefore to help target behaviour change campaigns. While exercise rates are rising, fewer than two in five UK adults in all regions are currently exercising on a weekly basis.
For further information about the Active People Survey, please see: www.sportengland.org/media-centre/news/2014/june/12/record-numbers-of-people-playing-sport/
Photo credit: Runners by Stuart Grout