Active People Survey results

Half the population of England don’t take part in sport or active recreation, a major nationwide survey revealed today.

But Sport England’s Active People Survey shows that 69.5 per cent of adults are satisfied with the sports provision in their local area. One in four adults – that’s 10.2 million people – belong to a health or sports club, compared with one in six in 2002, and six million people have taken part in competitive sport over the last year.

The survey is the largest-ever held into the sport and recreational habits of people in England and is more than 20 times larger than the 2002 General Household Survey, the last major survey conducted in sport.

Of the 363,724 people questioned in all 354 English local authorities:

• 50.6 per cent did not take part in any moderate intensity sport or active recreation (for 30 minutes or more) in the previous four weeks.

• 28.4 per cent have built some moderate intensity sport or exercise into their lives.

• 21 per cent are hitting the recommended target of 30 minutes of moderate intensity sport or active recreation on at least three days a week, including 6.3 per cent who do exercise every day.

Sport England, the body charged with sustaining and increasing participation in sport, commissioned Ipsos MORI to carry out the survey, the results of which will help the organisation, working with local authorities and sports bodies throughout the country, to identify where resources should be targeted to improve community sport.

Says Derek Mapp, Chair of Sport England: “The survey highlights for the first time a true picture of activity and inactivity in England. Knowing the scale of the challenge is the first step to putting it right and it is a wake-up call to people everywhere.

“We will work with every local authority and our other partners to make sure these detailed findings help us all target our resources better so that we have the right places to play sport and people on the ground to make sport happen ­ coaches, paid and unpaid, and other crucial volunteers.

“The survey results complement existing tools, including our Active Places website, which allows us to analyse facilities around the country. We aim to get two million more people doing sport by 2012. It’s a huge challenge and we’re ready for it.”

The south east is the most active region, while the West Midlands has the lowest percentage hitting the 3 x 30 minute a week target. Richmond upon Thames has the accolade of being the most active local authority, closely followed by Macclesfield. Boston and Newham are currently the least active.

Some of the lowest participation rates are in the Thames Gateway and three of the Olympic boroughs ­ Greenwich, Waltham Forest as well as Newham. A striking feature is the low rates of participation along large tracts of the eastern coast line, running from Northumberland all the way to Kent.

As expected, the most active age group are those aged 16­24 and the survey shows that people do less and less exercise as they get older.

The survey also gives a picture of the most popular sports across England. The top 10 are: recreational walking; swimming; going to the gym; cycling; football; running and jogging; golf; badminton; tennis; and aerobics.

Says Derek Mapp: “This survey and the actions that will flow from it will be powerful tools in our fight against inactivity, which costs the country over £8 billion a year. The power of sport is immense, not just improving the health of the nation and helping to build communities, but because it is fun and makes us feel better, both physically and mentally.

“We need to use these results to ensure that we reach out to more of those currently missing out on sport and its benefits.”

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