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New figures show how activity levels were effected by the national lockdown in March.
New figures show how activity levels were effected by the national lockdown in March.

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New Active Lives data shows impact of covid-19 on London's activity levels

The most in-depth picture yet of the impact of lockdown on Londoners’ activity levels has been published by Sport England with the release of their Active Lives Survey.

Sport England’s insights cover the period from May 2019 to May 2020 which means they include the first seven weeks of lockdown where people were only allowed outside for exercise once a day.

Nationally, increases in activity levels in the ten months to mid-March 2020 were wiped out by the disruption caused by covid-19 resulting in a ‘flat set of results’ for the year overall.

As a result, the data for London shows 63.9% of people are active, completing 150+ minutes of activity a week, which remains above the national average of 62.8%.

Despite the disruption, Sutton saw a 13.2% increase in the number of residents meeting government guidelines for activity while there was also a 7.7% drop in inactivity in the borough.

For the first time, Sport England have broken down their bi-annual figures to demonstrate the impact which the lockdown had on the nation’s ability to stay active.

Between mid-November 2019 and mid-January 2020, there were 27.5m in England considered active, with this figure rising to 28m in the two-month period which followed.

However, this fell to 26.5m between mid-March 2020 and mid-May 2020 – the point at which covid-19 lockdown restrictions from the government were at their tightest.

As discussed at London Sport’s Active London conference last week, the impact of covid-19 has significantly exacerbated the existing inequalities seen in activity levels across the capital.

Nationally, there was a 10.3% increase in the number of people with disability who did less than 30 minutes of exercise a week between mid-March and mid-May, with many advised to shield.

And, in addition to inactive older adults (55+) doing less activity (an 8.1% rise), there was a 9.2% increase in the number of inactive young people (16-34) doing less than 30 minutes of activity/week.

This data coincides with the time when schools, universities and other facilities closed in March.

Commenting on the data, Daniel Stracey, London Sport Senior Insight Manager, said:

“It has been an extremely turbulent few months for everyone involved in physical activity and sport so it is useful to get this data to consider how we can direct support to the right people and places.

“As we saw at Active London last week, the inequalities that existed in our sector have only broadened due to lockdown and this is something London Sport will work to address.

“Active London offered some hugely positive and inspirational messages and learnings around work that is being done and will continue to be done to help ensure that everyone benefits from an active life.”

Announcing the national findings, Sport England Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, said:

“Though the early months of lockdown brought unprecedented disruption to our lives and had a huge impact on our overall engagement in sport and physical activity, it is also positive to see how many people turned to new activities like cycling, fitness at home and running.

"It also highlights the challenges this year has brought to those groups who already find it harder than most to be active, with disabled people, people with health conditions and younger people struggling, reminding us of the importance of educational settings, community leisure facilities and team sports that underpin access to activity for so many people across England.”

For more information on the national figures from Sport England, click here.

To catch-up on all our Active London conference content around tackling inequalities, click here.




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London Sport aims to ensure more Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity. Supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get Londoners more physically active.

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