Lockdown has given the nation a new desire to exercise, with 60% of the population intending to be more active as restrictions are eased.
Throughout the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, we’ve been measuring activity levels and attitudes towards activity through a survey conducted by Savanta ComRes.
The latest figures, taken from data collected on 19-22 June, show activity levels have dropped slightly compared to the initial phase of lockdown, as many schools, shops and workplaces reopen.
Pre-coronavirus, our latest Active Lives Adult Survey showed activity levels to be at a record high, with 28.6 million adults doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week.
However, during lockdown lives have inevitably changed and not everyone has met that level of activity – with 52% feeling guilty for not doing more.
New habits have been formed though, with walking, running and cycling being the most popular ways to keep active and 62% of people intending to keep walking and cycling for everyday journeys as restrictions ease.
“We have a real opportunity as we begin to emerge from lockdown into a new normal to build on the good habits people have created, including how they have been able to prioritise their health by being active during the pandemic,” said Lisa O’Keefe, our executive director of insight.
“It will be a challenge as restrictions ease, and we move closer to a new normal – the challenges we had before lockdown in getting people active will once again be there.”
Keeping the nation active has been one of our two priorities throughout the coronavirus crisis, and this has been aided by government guidance, with 46% of people feeling encouraged to exercise by official advice.
However, with 32% of people admitting it will be a challenge to maintain their lockdown activity levels as restrictions ease, we’re aware this is an issue to tackle.
This figure was particularly high for people with children, those currently furloughed or on reduced hours, those aged 16-34, Asian people, those with caring responsibilities and those in the ABC1 social grade, as they anticipate increasing pressure on their time.
We have a real opportunity as we begin to emerge from lockdown into a new normal to build on the good habits people have created
Executive director for insight, Sport England
Another issue is the widening gaps in activity levels for specific demographics during the pandemic.
Only 23% of people with a longstanding condition or illness met activity guidelines in our latest survey, while the figure was 26% for people from lower socio-economic groups, 27% for women and 30% of older people.
These figures compare to 33% for those with no longstanding condition or illness, 33% in the ABC1 social grade, 33% of men and 31% of 35-54-year-olds.
“The social and economic impact that coronavirus is having has also meant that some parts of society are being affected more than others and it is disappointing to see that some people found it hard to build activity into their day during lockdown,” added Lisa.
“We always work hard to reach these people and our focus will continue to be getting everyone back to playing sport and enjoying physical activity safely."