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Positive signs for physical activity levels in Sussex before Covid-19

Positive signs for physical activity levels in Sussex before Covid-19

Categories: Active Sussex News Active Sussex Programmes Insight National Governing Bodies

The latest release of the Sport England Active Lives Survey for England shows a reduction in the proportion of physically inactive adults nationally, and in Sussex.

The survey was carried out nationally, in the 12 months from November 2018 to November 2019, before the impact of Covid-19, 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.

Decreased Inactivity levels in Sussex

There has been a small, but statistically significant, decrease in the proportion of adults in Sussex who are physically inactive over the last 12 months of -2.3%. This equates to 31,000 fewer inactive adults in a two year period.

The decrease in inactive adults was most significant in West Sussex which saw a decrease of -2.6% over the last 12 months which equates to 16,900 more adults doing at least 30 minutes per week of moderate intensity exercise.

East Sussex had a decrease of -1.5% (6,500 fewer inactive adults) but this is within the margin of error, so will need to be confirmed in future surveys.

Brighton & Hove already has the lowest inactivity rate in Sussex, and one of the lowest in the country, because of its young population. Brighton & Hove saw a reduction of -3.2% (7,500) but this will also need to be confirmed in future surveys as the sample size is relatively small.

Importantly, this increase in activity has 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. However inequalities in activity levels relating to deprivation and ethnicity remain.

The totals for Sussex as reported in the November 2018-19 Active Lives Survey are:

  • 951,500 Active people (150+ minutes per week of moderate intensity activity)

  • 158,800 Fairly Active people (30-149 minutes per week of moderate intensity activity)

  • 296,700 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 (24.6%)  have been reported for Rother (24.3%) and Eastbourne (23.7%) for the first time. The relatively small sample size at district and borough level means that we should await future results to confirm whether this is a genuine change.

  • Crawley, Hastings and Wealden were the only local authorities in Sussex where inactivity levels were reported higher than the national average.
  • Brighton,  Chichester and Mid Sussex continue to have the lowest levels of inactivity, between 15% and 16%.

How are we targeting inactivity? 

Active Sussex is targeting inactive people in areas with the highest inactivity rates to support them to become more physically active and in turn create healthier communities as outlined in the launch of our visionary five-year Strategy in 2018.

One of the ways we are doing this is through our Workforce project thanks to grant investment from Sport England to continue developing a workforce infrastructure to tackle physical inactivity in Sussex. 

We have been using this funding to target wards in Hastings, Wealden, Eastbourne and Lewes, building on from our insightful and successful workforce pilot in Rother. 

Workforce developments so far

Active Sussex has been working with Rother District Council, Hastings Borough Council and 3VA to build the workforce needed to engage inactive people.

The first stage of this project has been to understand physical activity levels and attitudes of residents and participants, and the coaches and volunteers needed to support them to become active.

You can download our report on audiences here: 
Rother Workforce Project Stage 1 report – Understanding Audiences.
Hastings Workforce Project Stage 1 report – Understanding Audiences.

You can watch a couple of our latest case studies below.

A Workforce for an Active Nation: Zoe's Story:

RunningSpace - running to beat suicide:

Workforce & Insight links


For further Workforce information please contact Anthony Statham, Strategic Relationship Manager and Workforce lead, Active Sussex, E: astatham@activesussex.org

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