Sport England COVID-19 Insight Briefing

Sport England COVID-19 Insight Briefing


Survey of English adults to understand the impact of Covid-19 on attitudes and behaviours towards physical activity.

The survey asks the public about their exercise habits before and after the Covid-19 restrictions, focusing on the type of physical activity they currently do and how frequently. It looks at how attitudes have changed as a result of the outbreak, with the majority of respondents showing a shift in attitudes towards physical activity in the current circumstances. It also asks parents how their children have changed their exercise habits since the Covid-19 restrictions.

For the latest data please click here.


3rd - 6th April 2020

  • There has been a massive disruption in the physical activity behaviours of adults and children in England. 33% of adults did more and 39% did less physical activity in the last week compared to before the restrictions. In the same period 29% of children did more and 37% did less compared to pre-restriction levels.
  • There is a recognition of the importance of physical activity in response to the pandemic. 63% of adults think it is more important to be active during the outbreak compared to other times.
  • The majority of adults are using physical activity to help them manage their health. 71% of adults agree that exercise is helping them manage their physical health, whilst 67% agree it is helping them manage their mental health.
  • There are differences in levels of activity between different demographic groups. Older people, people on low incomes, living in urban areas or living alone are finding it harder to be active during the outbreak.
  • The Government's messages about exercise may be having a positive impact. 55% of adults in England agree that they have been encouraged to exercise by the Governments guidance.
    • 59% of adults walked in the last week
    • 48% did online fitness, offline fitness or informal activity in the home
    • 19% went jogging
    • 9% cycled

10th - 14th April 2020

  • Adults are reporting similar levels of physical activity to the previous week.
  • According to adults, children have been slightly more active than they were the previous week.
  • There are still differences in levels of activity between different demographic groups.
  • People's current feelings about physical activity are mostly similar to the previous week, with a few exceptions indicating that physical activity might be slightly less of a focus for people this week.

17th - 20th April 2020

  • Adults are reporting similar levels of physical activity to the previous week, but the 'more/less' gap has narrowed.
  • There is an emerging gender gap as males are more likely to be exercising more.
  • Decline in online exercise as people adjust to exercising out of the home.
  • Guilt was less of a motivator to exercise over the Easter weekend.
  • No change in children's physical activity levels.
  • Some demographic groups are finding it much harder to be active.
  • Access to private open space.

24th - 27th April 2020

  • Adults are reporting consistent physical activity levels over lockdown; however, more people now feel they are doing more - than less - physical activity than usual.
  • The gender gap widens.
  • Home-based activity declines further, however outdoor numbers remain strong.
  • Half of sport volunteers are still volunteering.
  • People may be losing the motivation to be active.
  • Other changes suggest people are finding it easier to be active.
  • Inequalities continue.

1st - 4th May

  • Activity levels are unchanged for adults and children.
  • The gender gap persists.
  • Home-based activity has picked up.
  • Attitudes around motivation have improved slightly after last week's apparent waning.

8th - 11th May

  • Activity levels are unchanged, but so too inequalities.
  • The gender gap persists.
  • Inequalities remain.
  • Growth in walking and cycling.
  • Attitudes and motivations holding strong.
  • Forming new habits and returning to old ones.

15th - 18th May

  • Physical activity levels highest since we started.
  • Continued growth in walking and cycling.
  • Attitudes and motivations see big improvement.
  • Worries and concerns about returning to activity.

22nd - 25th May

  • Physical activity levels hold up on previous week; some inequalities lessen.
  • Running/jogging peaks, as does informal play at home.
  • People find it easier to be active.
  • Sources of trusted information about returning to sport and physical activity.
  • Future surveys will take place monthly.

19th - 22nd June

  • Physical activity falls as society starts to reopen.
  • Home activity falls as some outdoor activities resume.
  • Attitudes and behaviours see change.
  • Good intentions but challenges as we move out of lockdown.


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
    Sedgemoor District Council
    Avon & Somerset Police
  • South Somerset District Council
    Somerset Partnership
    Yeovil Hospital Healthcare
    Taunton & West Somerset Council
    Mendip District Council
    Homes in Sedgemoor
  • Macmillan Cancer Support
    Spark Somerset
    YMCA Dulverton Group
    Department for Work & Pensions
    Somerset CCG
    together team
    Somerset Cricket Board
    British American Football Association
    Badminton England
    Somerset FA
  • British Cycling
    Create Development
    Children in Need
    The Salvation Army
    Somerset County Council
  • Channel Adventure
    Somerset Community Foundation
    Nova Sports & Coaching
    Zing Somerset
    Sports Coach UK