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 2021 to mid-November 2022, 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?

We have 23.5% of people who are inactive in Somerset, which is slightly lower than the national average.

But, this doesn't mean we can relax. That's still over 100,000 people who have a higher risk of major illness and other negative effects because they lack the support or opportunity to be active in a way that suits them.

If we look at this, and the % that are active, over time, we can see we have a relatively stable trend since 2015.

We have seen a slight increase in activity since last year, and a slight decrease in the % who are inactive.

All is not equal...

The overall figures can only tell us so much, and can also hide a lot.

One of our main aims is to tackle inequalities across Somerset, so what can the active lives survey tell us about inequalities that exist for people doing physical activity in our county?

People that have certain characteristics are much more likely to be inactive. Whilst it is important to reduce overall inactivity across Somerset, we need to work hard to reduce the inequality in activity that exists for these people.

Intersectionalities can lead to greater inactivity

But we can't just look at these characteristics in isolation. People don't just have one characteristic that defines whether they are physically active (or not). We have intersectionalities, and it's important to understand these, and understand if some can have a greater impact on our ability, and desire, to be active.

Young adults are most affected by social grade

Our data shows there are fluctuations in the inactivity levels of those aged 16-34, and also a similar pattern for those in the lowest socio-economic groups.

When exploring the data in more detail, we find that being between 16-34, and part of the highest socio-economic groups, means you are half as likely to be inactive than if you are just 16-34.

In contrast, if you are part of the lower socio-economic groups, you are twice as likely to be inactive.

This tells us that the activity levels of those aged 16-34 is affected A LOT by their socio-economic status.

Being 75+ and having a LTHC and/or disability leads to increased inactivity

We know that being over 75, or having a LTHC and/or disability means you are much more likely to be inactive than the average person in Somerset.

What happens if you have both?

60% of people who have both are inactive, which is double the amount that are active (28.7%).

This means the additional needs of being LTHC and/or disability leads to a much greater chance of being inactive.

Types of activity, and the role inequality plays

We continue to see walking as the most popular type of activity taken part by residents of Somerset.

Downward trends for Active Travel, Fitness Activities, Swimming and Team Sports appear to be reversing

However, cycling and running continue to suffer, with running in particular seeing a large fall in the last 12 months

When thinking about tackling inequalities:

That fall appears to be impacting women more than men, however walking continues to be more popular for women and those who are 75+. Fitness activities also popular for 75+.

The biggest gaps between lower socio economic groups and highest socio economic groups are in Walking (46.1% - 63.8%), running (6.9% and 12.8%). Areas where you would perhaps expect to see a greater gap (due to cost, for example), do not exist. E.g. Swimming (similar), cycling (similar), team sports (higher for lower socio-economic groups).

What do we want to see?

Our vision is for healthier and happier communities in somerset through physical activity and sport.

We'll see our success as whether the following three things are happening:

  1. Activity: Overall levels of activity across the population are going up, not down.
  2. Inactivity: Overall levels of inactivity across the population are going down, not up.
  3. Inequality: Levels of inequality across both measures are narrowing, not widening.

What are we doing already?

Our Impact Report shows just how much we are doing already:

  • Diversifying opportunities through the Together Fund
  • Embedding physical activity in primary and secondary prevention through our Health and Wellbeing Coaches
  • Bridging the gap between mental and physical health for 16 - 25 year olds
  • Providing Enhanced Access - a free offer to access preventative moving more medicine in our leisure centres
  • Free Health Walks across Somerset
  • Supporting specific groups through our campaigns and active ambassadors

What else can we do to get there?

Work out WHERE these inequalities are – use Small Area Estimates

Talk to people who have these characteristics – what is stopping them from being active?

Use this insight to influence partners and design services that can help tackle inequalities

Webinar Recording

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