Method behind Active Lives

Collection of data for our Active Lives Survey began in November 2015 and runs for an initial period of five years

Our Active Lives: Adult survey represents a new way of measuring the number of people taking part in sport and physical activity.

Active Lives Survey is a 'push-to-web' survey

The Active Lives survey is sent out to a randomly selected sample of households across England.

If you have received a request to answer the Active Lives Survey, you will have received a letter like this.

Your responses are really valuable as they help to provide an in-depth picture of how many people take part in sport and physical activity by demographic group, location and activity type.

As a thank you, we’ll give you a £5 gift voucher which can be redeemed from a range of retailers including department stores, fashion stores and restaurants.

To answer the survey, just go to and type in one of the passwords on your invitation letter.

If you have any further questions about the survey, or how to complete it, please email

The survey sample

The overall sample size will be around 198,250 people each year. Our minimum annual sample size for each English local authority (excluding the City of London and Isles of Scilly) will be 500, though some key areas will involve surveying a bigger number of people.

The survey sample will be randomly selected from the Royal Mail’s Postal Address File (generally regarded as the “Gold Standard” for population surveys), which is a list of addresses in the UK that is maintained by the Royal Mail and has a very high coverage of private residential addresses.

Data has been weighted to ONS population measures for geography and key demographics.

Survey development

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 our testing gives us confidence that the new survey design provides an accurate picture of sports participation.

Active Lives roadmap

The core questionnaire was implemented in November 2015 and gives us information on sport and physical activity participation (KPI 1), inactivity (KPI 2) and spectating (KPI 9).

With the addition of survey questions in May 2016, we are now able to develop our understanding around the following areas:

  • Volunteering
  • Readiness (opportunity and capability), habit formation and resilience
  • Motivation
  • Wellbeing

Releasing results

The latest findings – for the year to mid-November 2017 – were published in March 2018 and focus on activity levels. Results covering the period mid-May 2017 to mid-May 2018 will be released in October 2018.

The November 2015/16 and November 2016/17 datasets will be available soon.