Sport England's Active Lives Survey measures the sport and physical activity levels of adults (aged 16+) across England. The most recent survey looked at the period November 2019-November 2020 and covers four months before the coronavirus pandemic and eight months of restrictions being imposed from mid-March 2020 to the start of the second national lockdown in November 2020.
The Active Lives Survey allows us to gain a picture of what's happening in England, as well as enabling us to see how we measure up in Berkshire. The survey provides reports showing us how active people are in different areas and how these levels have changed, who within our county is not managing to be as active as we would like and how many adults are giving back to their communities by volunteering. Throughout England, less women are active than men, being inactive is more likely if you have a disability and people become less active with age.
In England, 61.4% of adults are achieving the recommended minimum 150 minutes of physical activity each week, meaning 27.9 million people are gaining all the amazing health benefits from being active. However, the number of inactive adults has risen to 27.1% or 12.3 million people.
The pandemic led to decreases in physical activity levels; they were hardest hit during the initial lockdown period (active levels dropped by 7.1% or 3 million people) but even as restrictions eased over the summer, levels were still down on the previous 12 months (3.1% or 1.4 million few active adults mid-July to mid-September.)
Overall, compared to the previous 12 months, there were 710,000 fewer adults meeting the Chief Medical Officer's guidelines of taking part in 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week.
The activity levels of women, young people aged 16-24, over 75s, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, and those from Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds were most negatively impacted beyond the initial lockdown period.
In Berkshire the current activity rate is 65.4%. 12 months ago it was 64.7% so the number of active people has increased a little.
West Berkshire tops the county as the most active area in Berkshire and they experienced a huge 11.4% increase in activity levels compared to the November 18/19 survey. Bracknell Forest also saw a small increase in activity levels.
The results also found that over 23% of people in our Berkshire communities are considered inactive so are doing less than 30 minutes per week of physical activity, which is why the work that Get Berkshire Active does is so important.
Berkshire is doing well when it comes to volunteering. 5.6% of people in the county had helped out with sport or physical activity on a weekly basis which is higher than the rate for England and the South East.
As most of us know, physical activity is so important to individuals in terms of their physical and mental health; it can decrease the risk of many chronic conditions such as cancer, stroke and type 2 diabetes and can make a positive impact upon reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as enhancing self-esteem and well-being. There are also many benefits of sport and physical activity both socially and culturally, bringing people together and creating social groups. Participation has shown to improve numeracy in children, reduce crime and strengthen community identity.
Sport England have also produced a specific Coronavirus report; if you would like to examine it, look at the latest results in more detail or find out more about the survey, visit the Sport England website.