Latest figures from Sport England's Active Lives Adult Survey show 27.7 million people – 61.8% of the 16+ population in England – are active. That means they meet the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines and do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity each week – gaining health benefits including a reduced risk of dementia, depression, diabetes, and improved mental wellbeing.
At the other end of the scale, 11.5m people (25.7%) are inactive, meaning they do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week. The results, which are based on a sample of almost 200,000 survey respondents, show that activity levels in England are stable.
Walking remains the most popular activity, with 18.6m people walking for leisure. There are 14.5m people who walk for travel – an increase of 423,000.
A striking feature of the data is a significant increase of 518,000 more people doing interval training sessions, such as HIIT classes. Figures show 20% of people did their interval training sessions at home, and 75% in a leisure/fitness/sport centre or gym. A significant proportion of the people doing interval sessions (47%) are young people aged 16-34, which coincides with an increase in the number of HIIT classes available for free on YouTube.
In contrast, swimming and cycling have both decreased in popularity, with almost 283,000 fewer people swimming regularly, and 93,000 fewer people cycling.
Adventure sports has enjoyed a boost in popularity, with 337,000 more people taking part in activities such as hill and mountain walking, rock climbing, abseiling, orienteering, or high ropes.
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