What is the Active Lives Survey?

The Active Lives Survey asks people aged 16 and over across England about the sport and physical activities they take part in. The first survey was completed between November 2015 and November 2016. Further results are published twice a year. More information can be found on Sport England's website, here.

The following report covers the period from mid-November 2020 to mid-November 2021, providing an update on the sport and physical activity behaviours of adults (aged 16+) across Somerset. The period includes five months of lockdown, or significant restrictions, and seven months of easing or limited restrictions.

What trends are we seeing across Somerset?

1. Somerset has been less impacted by the pandemic than the national average

Whilst the proportion of active people has dropped at various times through the pandemic, depending on current restrictions, Somerset has remained consistent year-on-year. We also appear to have been less impacted than the national average, while maintaining higher levels of activity than the national average.

2. Some groups are still feeling significant impacts from the pandemic

A deeper analysis of the data shows that the following groups have been impacted more heavily due to the pandemic in terms of their activity levels:

  1. Lower socio-economic groups
  2. Men
  3. 16-34 year olds
  4. Those living with a disability and/or a long term health condition

This may be a sign of inequality in how COVID-19 has impacted particular groups. It's also important to not look at these groups in isolation, there may be overlaps within these. For example, we are seeing that younger men have seen a greater fall in % active than younger women.

3. Sedgemoor remains the least active Local Authority

Whilst most Local Authorities have seen peaks and troughs in activity levels (particularly around the pandemic), Sedgemoor have consistently been the least active Local Authority since November 2017.

4. Where people get their minutes from changed during the pandemic, and these changes appear to be sticking

Walking for leisure remains the most popular activity, and it's popularity continues to increase. However, falls have been seen across many other activities, with the largest decreases in Active Travel and Running.

5. Muscle strengthening has fallen in line with the national figures

We've seen a fall in the % of adults reporting 2+ sessions per week of muscle strengthening physical activity, which mirrors the national figures. Those with the greatest fall appear to be males, middle socio-economic group (NS-SEC 3-5), 16-34 year olds, and those not living with disability and/or long term health condition. We've also seen big falls in Sedgemoor and South Somerset.

So what does this all mean for us in Somerset?

This data tells us about how Somerset is faring compared to the national figures, but importantly, it is telling us in more detail who in Somerset is seeing falls in activity levels, and where they are. This is making us think:

  • Place matters - What's going on in Sedgemoor? How can we find out more? Who do we work with to address this need?
  • Inequalities aren't going anywhere - What more can we learn about the groups that are struggling the most to recover from the pandemic? How can we focus our efforts on these groups? Who in the system can help us with that?
  • Focus on activities - We're seeing some trends in muscle strengthening, what activities can we do to support this? How can we engage particular demographics based on type of activity?

Find out more

We would like to explore these results further, and think about how we can embed them in to decision making around our work on physical activity. We'll be doing this in a number of ways over the coming weeks, so please join us if you are interested:

  • We'll be delivering a session on how we can use the Active Lives Survey data to make decisions at a system level at our Strategy Launch on 29th September. You can sign up here
  • We'll be running two webinars in October exploring these key messages in more detail. If you'd like to join, please sign up here.

In the meantime, if you would like to learn more about the Active Lives Survey, and what it means for physical activity in Somerset, please contact Annabel Litchfield (contact details below).

Adult Active Lives Survey Webinar

Annabel Litchfield (she/her)

Annabel Litchfield (she/her)

Impact & Learning Manager

07599 654681‚Äč

Partners and Sponsors

Partners and Sponsors

  • Sport England
    Active Partnerships
    Somerset Business Award Winner
    Somerset Chamber of Commerce
    Disability Confident
  • Somerset Skills & Learning
    Youth Sport Trust
    activity alliance
    Somerset Partnership
    Somerset County Council
    Avon & Somerset Police
  • Homes in Sedgemoor
    Macmillan Cancer Support
    Community Council for Somerset
    Spark Somerset
    YMCA Dulverton Group
    Department for Work & Pensions
  • EDF
    together team
    Somerset Cricket Board
    British American Football Association
    Badminton England
  • Somerset FA
    British Cycling
    Create Development
    Children in Need
    The Salvation Army
  • Channel Adventure
    Nova Sports & Coaching
    Somerset Community Foundation
    Sports Coach UK