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Lockdown restrictions saw big increases in cycling, running and walking.
Lockdown restrictions saw big increases in cycling, running and walking.

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New Active Lives data shows impact of covid-19 on Londoners’ activity levels

Sport England’s latest Active Lives Survey shows the impact of the first eight months of coronavirus on Londoners’ activity levels.

The majority of physically active adults in London managed to stay active despite the challenges of the pandemic. 

However, while the overall number of Londoners’ meeting Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines of 150 minutes of regular physical activity remained slightly higher than the national average at 62.3% compared to 61.4%.

There were 2.2% fewer ‘active’ adults for the period between November 2019 to November 2020 when compared with the previous 12 months. 

The data for London also saw a significant increase in the amount of ‘inactive’ Londoners with 2.6% more ‘inactive’ adults doing less 30 minutes of activity a week or nothing at all.

Not all groups or demographics were affected equally with women, young people aged 16-24, over 75s, disabled people and people with long-term health conditions, and those from Black, Asian, and other minority ethnic backgrounds most negatively impacted beyond the initial lockdown period.

This disproportionate impact was particularly stark nationally among Black and Asian adults, as well as those in ‘other ethnic groups’ - with 4.5% fewer active Black adults; 4.4% fewer active Asian adults; and 7.6% fewer active adults from ‘other ethnic groups’.

City of London, Enfield, and Wandsworth saw significant decreases in proportion of ‘active adults’ with there being a decrease of 18.2% ‘active’ adults in City of London.

To add to this, there were 8.3% fewer ‘active adults in Enfield and 7.8% fewer ‘active’ adults in Wandsworth. Sutton also saw a significant increase in the amount of ‘inactive’ adults (6.8% increase).

  • Inactive Londoners: 26.6% (1.88m) of Londoners are doing less than an average of 30 minutes of physical activity a week.
  • Fairly Active Londoners: 11.3% (801,200) of Londoners are doing between 30-149 minutes of physical activity a week.
  • Active Londoners: 62.3% (4.43m) doing 150 minutes or more of physical activity a week.

Commenting on the data, Tim Copley, London Sport Director of Insight, Technology & Data, said:

“London Sport recognises the deep impacts of covid-19 on Londoners and this report just emphasises the need to accelerate effort in addressing the inequalities that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

"We have, and will continue to, do everything in our power to address these challenges and work with the physical activity and sport sector to build a brighter, active future for all Londoners.

"The sector has been massively impacted, but we’ve seen London’s sport charities and activity providers rise to the challenge over the past year, finding new and creative ways to help people keep active and returning to activity as restrictions eased.”

Announcing the national findings, Sport England Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, said:

We know the pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s ability to engage in sport and physical activity, but the reality is it could have been worse.

"It is encouraging to see in the survey that so many still found ways to be active despite the majority of opportunities being unavailable or severely restricted.  

"Today’s report has also reminded us that not everyone has been impacted equally and we owe it to the groups disproportionately affected – women, young people, disabled people, people with a long-term health condition, and those from a Black or Asian background in particular – to do everything we can to help them to return to activity in the coming weeks and months.

"In particular, the decline in activity levels in the 16-24 age group is of major concern - helping and inspiring young people to re-engage with sport and physical activity has now to be a number one priority not just for Sport England but for us all.

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Notes to Editors

About London Sport

Established in 2014, London Sport is a strategic body aiming to make London the most physically active city in the world. Supported by the Mayor of London, Sport England and London Councils, the agency’s work focuses on enabling more Londoners of all backgrounds to live and enjoy the benefits of active lives.

For further information, contact:

Tanya Rabin, Interim Communications Lead, London Sport | 07498 753 851

Andrew Lawton, Senior Communications Officer, London Sport | 07398 215 076




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London Sport aims to ensure Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity

About London Sport

London Sport aims to ensure more Londoners live happier, healthier lives through sport and physical activity. Supported by the Mayor of London and Sport England, our target is to get Londoners more physically active.

For more information on London Sport, visit

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