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Significant increase in physically inactive people in Sussex

Significant increase in physically inactive people in Sussex

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There has been a significant increase in the proportion of physically inactive adults in Sussex, a Sport England survey reveals.

The latest release of the Active Lives Adult Survey (November 2017/18), carried out nationally, asked adults, aged 16 and above, how much physical activity they have taken part in.

The Chief Medical Officer's guidelines count people doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week as ‘active’ whereas those who do between 30 and 149 minutes are counted as ‘fairly active’ and people doing less than 30 minutes are counted as ‘inactive’.

Results showed since the first survey in November 2015-16, there has been a 2.1% increase in physically 'inactive' people in Sussex - an increase of 34,200 inactive people in Sussex over the two year period.

The total number of 'inactive' people in Sussex now stands at 328,000. 

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

Local picture

  • Eastbourne had the highest proportion of physically inactive adults, at 32% followed by Rother at 30%. The proportion of inactive people in Eastbourne has increased in each of the five Active Lives Surveys.
  • Chichester and Brighton had the lowest proportion of physically inactive adults at 19%, followed by Mid-Sussex at 20%.
  • Eight local authorities in Sussex have a lower proportion of inactive people than the national average. Five are higher.

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.

Areas such as Eastbourne and Rother have higher concentrations of people in these categories.

The national Sport England data, based on a sample of 179,747 respondents, showed overall an increase in the number of active people and a decrease in the number of inactive people. These results have primarily been driven by an increase in the number of women who are regularly active. As a result, the gender gap between men and women has narrowed. 

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

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, last year. 

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. 

Plans are in place to use this funding to target wards in Hastings, Wealden, Eastbourne and Lewes, building on from our insightful and successful workforce pilot in Rother over the past year. 

Workforce developments so far

Active Sussex has been working with Rother District Council 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.

Rye Runners are one of the clubs helping inactive people to become physically active and we took a look at what techniques and approaches they use in our video below - A Workforce for an Active Nation: Rye Runners.

Sadie Mason MBE, Active Sussex CEO, said: "Moving forward we strive to make a positive and lasting impact to people’s lives. Using our insight and resources we will ensure that future sport and physical activity focuses on the people and places most in need of the support we can offer.

"We have a key role to play and also look forward to working with a range of existing and new stakeholders to make active lives possible by driving physical activity transformation across Sussex." 

Partnership working 

Our work is in line with Sport England's - Working in an Active Nation, that envisions that everyone working in sport and activity feels confident, valued and supported. This strengthening of the workforce would enable the best possible experience for the people who are – or who want to be – active.

The tools used to build the workforce needed to engage inactive people, including evaluating your workforce, can be adopted for FREE by all local authorities, and delivery partners and Active Sussex is keen to support partners across Sussex to implement these methods.

For example, a big part of our work in these East Sussex localities will be working with local strategic partners to better understand the districts and to get an in-depth snapshot about barriers local people are facing to exercise and activity. We will therefore be working with 3VA, Rother District Council and stakeholders in Hastings to support their work in promoting behaviour change both among local people and sport and physical activity providers.

Promoting a 'people like me' approach

We are undertaking this work in these localities in the hope that by working with local partners we will better understand our audience and also understand the needs of clubs, coaches, volunteers and professional workforce operating in the area. By using a 'people like me' approach we want to match workforce need with residents’ needs to change local attitudes and behaviours around physical activity.

Workforce & Insight links


For further Workforce information please contact Anthony Statham, Strategic Relationship Manager and Workforce lead, Active Sussex, E: astatham@activesussex.org/ T: 01273 644149.

For more information on Insight please contact Henry McLaughlin, Data Analysis & Service Officer, Active Sussex, E: hmclaughlin@activesussex.org / T: 01201273 643838.