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Our research shows that the number of people taking part in sport and physical activity varies widely by ethnic group.

At a glance

Active Lives

Analysis from our latest Active Lives Adult Survey shows that Mixed and White Other adults continue to have the highest activity levels, while South Asian, Black and those with other ethnic origins are the least likely to be active.

Research also shows there are differences in the types of sport and activity that people of different ethnic groups do.

For some, we also observe a larger difference between levels of physical activity between men and women. For example, we know that females from White backgrounds are also more likely to take part in sport and physical activity compared to people from Asian, Other and Black backgrounds.

Many of the patterns in sport and physical activity participation by ethnicities reflect those observed between different faith groups. This highlights the closeness of the relationship that exists between faith and ethnicity amongst many groups and communities.

A group of people doing chair exercises.

A collaborative approach

We’re committed to reducing inactivity within ethnic groups. We believe it’s important to understand the differing motivations and barriers for specific audiences when it comes to sport and physical activity, rather than a one size fits all approach responding to stereotypes.

Importantly, people within ethnic groups cannot be thought of as one homogenous group of people. A complex backdrop of economic and health inequalities magnifies the impact of barriers to getting active felt by all, such as confidence or knowing where to go, through to cost, lack of time and appropriate opportunity. This explains why there isn’t a single reason for inactivity levels within ethnic groups.  

That's why we believe a collaborative approach will address the fundamental issue of reducing inactivity within ethnic groups.

In practise, this means working in partnership with a variety of organisations across sectors who know and understand the specific audiences we want to target, including partners who we’ve traditionally not worked with. 

By ensuring investments are insight and evidence-based, we can succeed in delivering more opportunities for people within ethnic groups to get active.

boy playing table tennis at the net

Our strategy – Uniting the Movement

Uniting the Movement, our 10-year strategy launched in 2021, is our plan to make being physically active a normal part of life for everyone in England – to make it easier for all of us as we go about our everyday lives.

Because currently, it’s not always a level playing field.

There are deep-rooted inequalities in sport and physical activity, which mean there are people who feel excluded from being active because the right options and opportunities aren’t there.

People from Asian and Black backgrounds are far more likely to be physically inactive than people who are White – a fact reinforced by our 2020 ‘Sport for All?’ report.

This inequality, as well as others, are at the very core of Uniting the Movement and we have a laser focus on tackling them in all that we do, because providing opportunities to people and communities that have traditionally been left behind, and helping to remove the barriers to activity, has never been more important.

Learn more about our Uniting the Movement strategy

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