What is the Active People Survey?

Active People Survey (APS) measures the number of adults taking part in sport across England

09 June 2016 Research

Carried out on behalf of Sport England by the leading social research company TNS BMRB, it provides the most comprehensive and authoritative picture of sports participation in England. APS is central to Sport England’s measurement of its own strategy and the performance of key partners. 

Key features of APS

  • APS is the largest survey of its kind ever undertaken – 165,000 adults (age 14 and over) are interviewed each year
  • The size of the survey means results can be published for a large number of different sporting activities and for every local authority area in England
  • Time series data stretches back to the first wave of the survey in 2005/6
  • A high quality, random sampling, survey design ensures results are representative of the population.

How does it work?

High quality survey design including:

  • Randomly sampled landline telephone interviews with adults aged 16 and over – extended to age 14 and over in July 2012
  • Calls are made throughout the year and at different times across each day
  • 500 interviews per local authority (district and single tier) each year

For more details, the questionnaire and technical report are available to download.

What does it measure?

  • Provides estimates of the number of adults taking part in sport (including the ‘1x30’ indicator)
  • Tracks how often people take part in sport and what sports they do
  • Tracks variations between different geographical areas
  • Allows analysis by demographic factors such as gender, social class, ethnicity, age and disability
  • Also tracks regular sport volunteering, club membership, involvement in competition, levels of tuition or coaching
  • Provides data for important measures of public health and active travel on behalf of Public Health England and the Department for Transport
  • Any upcoming or retrospective changes to the definitions used in the Active People Survey are outlined in the document available below.


Over its lifetime we have continually reviewed the APS survey design making changes and improvements where appropriate. These have included, improvement to the questionnaire and extending the sample to include 14-15 year olds.

We have also undertaken extensive testing of different data collection methods, much of it at the forefront of government statistics. This has included testing: face to face; mobile phone; online; and mobile apps. Evidence from all of our testing gives us confidence that the current survey design provides an accurate picture of sports participation.

However, we are aware that, in a world of changing technology, it is essential that we continue to review and develop the survey to ensure the best balance between quality, continuity, and value for money. As an Official Statistic, any changes to the current survey design will be subject to user consultation. 

We have recently consulted APS users on the possibility of introducing mobile phone data collection to the survey design, and are now carrying out a consultation on future arrangements for the measurement of sports participation. Please click here to find out more about the consultation.

Releasing results

APS results are published every six months.

The latest findings, for the year to April 2016, were published in June 2016. Full results for Active People Survey 10 covering the period October 2015 to September 2016 will be released in December 2016.

The dataset is available to download for those affiliated to an academic institution or certain not-for-profit organisations at the UK Data Service.