Last updated 14 May 2019 - see all updates
1. Main facts and figures
- overall, in 2017/18, 25% of people aged 16 years and over in England were categorised as ‘physically inactive’ – that is, they did less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week
- people from the Asian, Black, and Other ethnic groups were more likely to be physically inactive than those from the White British, White other and Mixed ethnic groups
- women were more likely to be physically inactive than men, with the biggest difference between women and men found in the Asian group – these findings are consistent with 2015/16 and 2016/17
- among people aged between 16 and 54 years, those in the White British ethnic group were less likely than average to be physically inactive
- among people in managerial and professional occupations, those in the White British ethnic group were less likely to be physically inactive than most other ethnic groups
The ethnic categories used in this data
Sports England used the following broad ethnic categories when analysing data from the Active Lives Survey:
- Asian – this data counts people from South Asian ethnic groups like Indian and Pakistani as ‘Asian’
- White British
- White Other
2. By ethnicity
|Ethnicity||%||Number of respondents|
Summary of Physical inactivity By ethnicity Summary
3. By ethnicity and gender
|Ethnicity||All %||All Number of respondents||Female %||Female Number of respondents||Male %||Male Number of respondents|
Summary of Physical inactivity By ethnicity and gender Summary
4. By ethnicity and age group
|Ethnicity||16-24 %||16-24 Number of respondents||25-34 %||25-34 Number of respondents||35-44 %||35-44 Number of respondents||45-54 %||45-54 Number of respondents||55-64 %||55-64 Number of respondents||65-74 %||65-74 Number of respondents||75+ %||75+ Number of respondents|
|Chinese||23||151||24||248||32||250||21||133||36||128||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
|Mixed||16||470||16||512||14||442||27||314||22||171||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
|Other||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||27||234||33||373||28||240||39||174||29||122||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
Summary of Physical inactivity By ethnicity and age group Summary
5. By ethnicity and socio-economic group
|Full-time student or unclassified||Intermediate occupations and lower supervisory||Long-term unemployed||Managerial and professional occupations||Routine and manual occupations|
|Ethnicity||Full-time student or unclassified %||Full-time student or unclassified Number of respondents||Intermediate occupations and lower supervisory %||Intermediate occupations and lower supervisory Number of respondents||Long-term unemployed %||Long-term unemployed Number of respondents||Managerial and professional occupations %||Managerial and professional occupations Number of respondents||Routine and manual occupations %||Routine and manual occupations Number of respondents|
|Chinese||22||155||43||189||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||19||526||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable|
|Mixed||17||332||19||356||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||withheld because a small sample size makes it unreliable||14||1,042||20||195|
Summary of Physical inactivity By ethnicity and socio-economic group Summary
The Active Lives Survey involves up to 4 postal mail-outs designed to encourage participants to complete the survey online. A letter is sent to a household inviting up to 2 people per household to take part in the survey, either online or by requesting a paper version of the questionnaire.
The overall sample size is just under 200,000 people each year. The survey sample is randomly selected from the Royal Mail’s Postal Address File, 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.
Weighting is used to adjust the results of a survey to make them representative of the population and improve their accuracy.
For example, a survey which contains 25% women and 75% men will not accurately reflect the views of the general population, which we know has an even 50/50 split.
Statisticians rebalance or ‘weight’ the survey results to more accurately represent the general population. This helps to make them more reliable.
Data has been weighted to ONS population measures for geography and key demographics.
Suppression rules and disclosure control
Results are not published when they're based on fewer than 30 respondents.
Estimates in the charts and tables are given to the nearest whole number but all gaps and differences have been calculated on unrounded data.
You can download more detailed estimates (to 1 decimal place) if you download the data.
Further technical information
7. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
Twice a year
Purpose of data source
The Active Lives Survey measures the number of people aged 16 and over who take part in sport and physical activity.
This data informs the government’s strategy on physical activity, Sporting Future, which looks at 5 aspects of physical activity:
- physical well-being
- mental well-being
- individual development
- social and community development
- economic development
8. Download the data
This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, geography, gender, age, socio-economic status, value, denominator, numerator, upper CI, lower CI and number of respondents