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Insight shows Covid-19 has stalled increases in physical activity levels in Sussex

Insight shows Covid-19 has stalled increases in physical activity levels in Sussex

Categories: Insight

27 October 2020

The latest release of the Sport England Active Lives Survey for England show how Covid-19 has stalled increases in physical activity levels nationally, and in Sussex.

The survey was carried out nationally, in the 12 months from May 2019 to May 2020, including the first seven weeks of lockdown, and asked adults aged 16 and above, how much physical activity they took part in.

'Active' adults are those meeting the Chief Medical Officer's guideline of 150+ minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise. 'Fairly active' adults are those doing between 30 and 149 minutes per week. 'Inactive' adults are those doing less than 30 minutes per week.

You can view the results for each local authority on the Active Sussex website here.

Covid-19 stalls increases in activity levels in Sussex

There has been no significant change in activity levels in Sussex in the 12 months to May 2020. Nationally, and locally, activity levels had been gradually increasing prior to Covid-19. The impact of the pandemic and lockdown saw a decrease in physical activity levels among every group.

Despite a large number of adults switching into alternative activities, the overall number of regularly active adults did fall due to the disruption caused by the pandemic when there were fewer opportunities to be active.

Running, and walking and cycling for leisure were all slightly up during mid-March to mid-May, during the strictest lockdown period. But walking and cycling for travel along with most other sports saw significant drops during this period. Sport England have produced a special report to highlight the effects of the pandemic on activity levels from mid-March to mid-May 2020.

Before Covid-19 increases in activity had been driven by women, people aged 55+, and people with disabilities and long-term health conditions. These three groups are strategic priorities for Active Sussex and Sport England. These groups had continued to become more active until the disruption caused by the pandemic wiped out the gains and produced a flat set of results for the year overall.

Stubborn inequalities in activity levels remain for people in lower socio-economic groups, such as those on low incomes, and people with Black or South Asian ethnic background, particularly women.

The totals for Sussex as reported in the May 2019-20 Active Lives Survey are:

  • 944,800 Active people (150+ minutes per week of moderate intensity activity)
  • 156,300 Fairly Active people (30-149 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity)
  • 313,200 Inactive people (less than 30 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity)

Areas of inactivity in Sussex

There is significant variation in activity levels across the county with factors such as age, deprivation and disabilities and long-term health conditions affecting people’s likelihood of being active.

  • Inactivity levels below the national average (25.5%)  have been reported for Rother (25.0%) for the second time in succession. The trend for Rother appears to be moving in the right direction as it had previously reported some of the highest inactivity levels in the South East of England. Rother has been a focus for Active Sussex’s Workforce project since 2018.
  • Arun (28.5%), Hastings (26.9%) and Eastbourne (26.5%) were the only local authorities in Sussex where inactivity levels were reported higher than the national average.
  • Brighton and Hove (16.1%), Horsham (18.2%), Chichester (21.6%) and Mid Sussex (21.0%) continue to have the lowest levels of inactivity.


For further Workforce information please contact Nick Chellel, Strategic Workforce Officer, Active Sussex, E: nchellel@activesussex.org

For more information on Insight please contact Henry McLaughlin, Data Analysis & Service Officer, Active Sussex, E: hmclaughlin@activesussex.org