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Faith groups

We know that people who belong to a faith group are less likely to be physically active. It's important we understand why, and not default to stereotypes.

At a glance

Faith’s impact on inactivity

Our research show that people who state they have no religion are more likely to be physically active compared to those that belong to a faith group.

Of those that do, analysis of our Active Lives Adult Survey data shows that participation in sport and physical activity is higher among some faith groups than others.

For example, amongst those practising a religion, those of a Buddhist, Christian, Jewish or Sikh faith are more likely to be physically active. In contrast, activity levels are lowest amongst those who practise Islam.

Research also shows there are differences in the types of sport and physical activity that people of different faiths do. For some faith groups, there's also a larger difference between levels of physical activity between men and women. This is influenced by certain cultural expectations around what they should wear or how they behave.  

Many of the patterns in sport participation by faith reflect those seen between different ethnicities, which highlights the closeness of the relationship that exists between faith and ethnicity amongst many groups and communities.

A group of women walking

A collaborative approach

We’re committed to reducing inactivity. 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 faith groups cannot be thought of as one homogenous group of people. This explains why there isn’t a single reason for their inactivity. That's why we believe a collaborative approach will address the fundamental issue of reducing inactivity. 

In practise, this means working in partnership with a variety of organisations 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 faith groups to get active.

Our strategy – Uniting the Movement

Getting faith groups more involved in sport and activity, through campaigns such as This Girl Can, is a crucial part of our work. 

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.

Inequalities 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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