New figures from our Active People Survey show that 15.83 million people over the age of 16 played sport in the last year.
261,200 more women active
That's a return to the level seen after the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. And it equates to 1.75 million more than when London won the right to host the Games.
While 81,900 more men are playing sport, the overall increase is largely because more women are getting active, accounting for over 75 per cent of the increase. The gender gap in sport has therefore reduced slightly, to 1.6 million.
Keep fit and going to the gym remain hugely popular, with the number of people doing them every week breaking the seven million mark for the first time. Exercise classes, like spinning and boxercise, continue to attract large numbers of people, especially women.
Some of the team sports are also becoming more popular:
- Cricket has seen an increase of 43,500
- Rugby union is up by 23,000
- Netball is played by 13,100 more people
The running boom looks set to continue, with 138,100 more people running regularly in the last 12 months, and a remarkable one million more people running compared to 10 years ago.
Running has continued to be a powerful driving force, with welcoming, low-cost and easy-to-access options like Parkrun making a big impact in the last decade
Jennie Price, chief executive, Sport England
“These figures are encouraging, especially the significant increase in the number of women playing sport and being active every week,” says chief executive Jennie Price. “Sport England has worked particularly hard to get more women active, and it’s good to see this is having an impact.
1.75m more active than 2012
“Running has continued to be a powerful driving force, with low-cost, welcoming and easy-to-access options like Parkrun making a big impact in the last decade.”
However there has been a small reduction in the number of disabled people playing sport, down 2,400 in the last year to 1.56 million.
“I am concerned that, despite significant focus and investment, the number of disabled people being active has remained largely flat in the last 18 months,” Jennie says.
“The sports sector needs to rethink how it supports disabled people, and in particular we all need to recognise that most disabled people are over 50 and that 75 per cent have more than one impairment.
"We will work hard with the sector to address this as we implement our new strategy.”