largeLiterally seconds after publishing my previous blog ‘Over 60’s Hikers Fitness Plan‘ I received the latest ‘Active Lives Adult Survey‘ report from Sport England. Within a few minutes of starting to read it I was blown away by the results.

The headline alone was a major eye catcher and the sort of news I like to hear

One million more active in England

What was the really good was that this is the highest level of activity recorded by this survey since it began in 2015. The data was gathered from 180,000 people aged 16+ between May 2018 and May 2019.

Sport England define activity levels as:

  • Inactive (less than 30 minutes a week)
  • Fairly active (30-149 minutes a week)
  • Active (at least 150 minutes a week)

What the survey shows is that the numbers of people doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week has increased to an amazing 28.6 million.


Inversely, the numbers of people classed as ‘Inactive’ has dropped to 11.2 Million. A decrease of 131,700 since 2015 and their lowest figure recorded by this survey. However, whilst this is good, it still accounts for approximately 20% of the population of England, or 1 in 5.

Leading The Way

What is very encouraging for me is that the results show that this improvement has been driven by women and older adults (aged 55+).

The results show that there are 100,700 fewer inactive over 55’s and a staggering additional 596,700 have become active in the past 12 months. The fact that over half a million over 55’s have taken up active exercise in the last year is absolutely fantastic.

So, lets drill down into those figures for more detail.

Age Group (years) Numbers Active % Age Group Active Numbers Inactive % Age Group Inactive
55 – 64 4,034,200 61.7 1,683,200 25.5
65 – 74 3,371,200 58.8 1,641,300 28.4
75 – 84 1,560,600 41.9 1,701,600 45.3
85+ 171,700 21.0 566,300 68.5

What this clearly shows is that there is a marked cut-off at the 75-year age point. Beyond this the rate of inactivity rises quit dramatically. This is, or course, to be expected as by this stage in our lives we are starting to become physically less able to move as much.

However, the encouraging statistic is that in the 55 – 74 age group the active population equates to approximately 60% of the age group. This on its own is a remarkable statistic because it is showing that the over 55’s are most definitely leading the way.

This is something that, unfortunately, the leading equipment manufacturers and retailers have not picked up on. This is a rising active age group with a disposable income in excess of 66 Billion Pounds per annum! And, as the next section will show, they are becoming the leading figures in the outdoor active environment.

National Trend

Looking at the overall national trend across all age groups, the figures look very good for the over 55’s. However, they are somewhat disconcerting for the younger generation.

Changes since 2015 Baseline recordings

Age Group % Active Significance % Inactive Significance
16 – 34 -1.1 Decrease 0.9 Increase
35 – 54 0.6 No Change -0.2 No Change
55 – 74 3.4 Increase -2.6 Decrease
75+ 4.7 Increase -4.2 Decrease

Changes in last 12 months

Age Group % Active Significance % Inactive Significance
16 – 34 -0.2 No Change 0.3 No Change
35 – 54 0.6 No Change -0.2 No Change
55 – 74 1.4 Increase -0.7 Decrease
75+ 3.6 Increase -2.3 Decrease

Across all senior age groups there was a significant increase in those taking up Active Exercise, both in the baseline comparison and over the last 12 months.

However, the baseline comparison shows a significant decrease in the 16 – 34 age group in the Active category and a significant increase in the Inactive Category. Whilst, over the past 12 months the situation seems to be stabilizing.

Meanwhile, the 35 – 54 age group seem to be ‘plodding along’ quite happily!

I have only covered a very small part of the overall report, as I am primarily interested in the over 55 (60’s) age group. The report went on to cover a whole range of diversities such as gender, socio-economics, disabilities & long term health issues and ethnicity.


Other notable findings from the report show: (courtesy of Sport England)

  • People who are less affluent are the most likely to be inactive (33%) and the least likely to be active (54%) compared to those who are the most well-off – who are 16% inactive and 72% active.
  • A complex backdrop of economic and health inequalities magnifies the impact of barriers to getting active felt by all, such as confidence or knowing where to go, through to cost, lack of time and appropriate opportunity.
  • Walking for leisure or travel remains the most popular activity, with 477,800 more people walking for travel (15,247,600 in total) and 514,000 more walking for leisure (19,162,200).
  • Fitness activities are becoming even more popular, especially for women and those in older groups, with 398,000 more people taking part (13,766,300 in total). Weight sessions are increasingly popular, with this type of fitness being easily adapted for different groups, e.g. strength and balance for older people.
  • Yoga and Pilates continue to grow in popularity.
  • Racket sports continue to decrease in popularity with 111,400 fewer people taking part.
  • Netball enjoyed a growth in popularity with 50,200 more people taking part (319,400 in total), with a diverse audience of younger and older women attracted through grassroots programmes like Back to Netball.


Overall, this has been a very significant report with the older generation coming out on top. There have been a lot of initiatives directed at this age group and it seems to have paid off. In addition to the Government and Lottery funded schemes, there are a lot of individuals, such as me, working hard to inspire and encourage the over 60’s to get outside.

I am personally taking no praise from this report for the work that I do. But what I do take away is encouragement that the work that I and many others are doing is starting to pay off.

All we have to do now is sort out the younger generation! Leading by example.