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Sport and physical activity must be used to level up and tackle inequalities

The Sport England Active Lives Adult survey highlights where and how resources should be focused, and that getting active can play a role in boosting the nation's fitness, wellbeing, and economic recovery from CV-19.

The coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on activity levels throughout England, but has been most acute across disadvantaged groups and areas of high deprivation.

The latest Sport England Active Lives Adult Survey, published on the 21st October 2021, covers the period from mid-May 2020 to mid-May 2021, which includes periods of national and tiered restrictions introduced to counter the coronavirus pandemic. The survey period ends before all restrictions were eased in July.

Compared to 12 months earlier, there were 700,000 (-1.9%) fewer active adults and 1 million (+2%) more inactive adults between mid-May 2020 and mid-May 2021.

Existing inequalities have widened

While there are signs of recovery for activity levels as restrictions have eased, not all groups or demographics are affected or recovering at the same rate.

Existing inequalities have been widened, with some groups hit much harder by the pandemic than others. This is the case for women, young people aged 16-34, over 75s, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, and those from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds. Those living in deprived areas and also those in urban areas found it harder to be active.


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