How has the pandemic affected the activity levels in England?

Karthik Muthuswamy
2 min readDec 11, 2021


Photo by Alex McCarthy on Unsplash

The covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the physical activity levels in England by making 1.4 million people inactive, according to an analysis by Karthik Muthuswamy.

The analysis done based on a survey by Sport England further reveals the activity trends in England and locates its most active and inactive regions.

👉 What does it mean to be active?

How active are people in England?

The survey by Sport England for the period May 20 — May 21 shows that nearly 61% of adults in England are active and 27.5% are inactive.

Compared to pre-pandemic times, 1.4 million (3%) people — that were active or fairly active — became inactive. The scale of damage is so big that many of the improvements in activity levels achieved over the last five years have been reversed.

In addition to the decreased activity levels, people’s perception of opportunities is negatively impacted. As Lisa O’Keefe, Insight Director of Sport England, says:

“There’s clear evidence of a significant impact on perceived opportunities to be active, our feelings of capability, and enjoyment levels.”

What is the most inactive region in England?

Almost three in ten people in the West Midlands are inactive, making it the least active region in England. Since 2015, it has consistently been the least active region.

What are the most active regions?

The South West has the highest percentage of active people, which is nearly 5% more than the national average, followed by the South East.

Why does it matter?

Regular physical activity provides a range of physical and mental health and social benefits. It can also reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, according to UK Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines.

“If physical activity were a drug, we would refer to it as a miracle cure, due to the great many illnesses it can prevent and help treat.”

Sport England has launched many funding programmes and campaigns like Uniting the Movement to improve people’s engagement in sports and physical activity.

You can find information on services provided by Sport England for individuals and organisations here.

Method and source

The survey data is on adults aged above 16.