Activity levels in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough remained stable across the last yearalbeit masking the true effects of the pandemic on the impacted months. 

The latest Active Lives Adult Survey results shows that, between mid-November 2019 and mid-November 2020, nearly two-thirds (63%) of adults aged 16+ across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough achieved enough physical activity across the week to benefit their health. That is, at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week. In contrast, a quarter (26%) of the adult population of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough remains inactive i.e. they undertook fewer than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per week, and in some cases, nothing. 


Across the county, Fenland and Peterborough remain the least active, Cambridge City the most active, with Huntingdonshire and East Cambridgeshire having made the greatest improvements although these were not significant. 

Although there are 10,000 more adults more active across the county (now 432,000) than in 2015/16 when the Active Lives Survey started, this is not significantly different, nor is the slight decline in numbers over the last 12 months (from 433,300). Compared with a relatively stable proportion of those remaining active, a far greater increase in numbers inactive was seen. 

The 14,600 more people inactive across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough over the last year demonstrates the continuing disruption that is being felt by adults in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And even these figures are likely masking the scale of changes seen during the impacted months. There were attempts to find alternatives to usual activities with walking for leisure, running and cycling for leisure and sport showing increases over the last 12 months, but understandable drops in activities such as active travel, pool/gym use and team sports were noticeable due to the restrictions placed on such activities at varying points across the year. 

Across all adults, there was reduced opportunity to be active over this last year, but they still felt they had the ability to be physically active which may be linked to the (often) home-based alternatives that emerged, away from fear of judgement. 

National results show that not all groups or demographics were affected equally though, 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. 

Being more active (or volunteering to support sport and physical activity) is still shown to be positively associated with mental wellbeing and individual and community development: 

  • Some activity is good, more is better. 
  • Regular volunteering outweighs irregular volunteering. 
  • Levels of happiness and anxiety changed minimally this year compared to last year – but people were less happy and more anxious during periods of full lockdown and easing restrictions which coincided with largest drops in levels of activity and volunteering. 
  • Levels of life satisfaction and life worthwhileness recorded a small decrease this year compared to 12 months ago. 
  • Those who are active (or volunteer) are more likely to keep trying if something is difficult, and more likely to achieve goals, than those who are less active (or volunteer irregularly). 
  • Those who are active (or volunteer) feel they can trust people in their area more than those who are inactive (or have not volunteered). 
  • Those who are active or fairly active are less likely to feel lonely than those who are inactive and this didn’t change across the different phases of the pandemic – the exception is those with a disability or long-term health condition who are equally likely to be lonely whether they are active or not. 

Tim Hollingsworth, Chief Executive at Sport 
England, says, “Iis 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.” However, he added that, “Today’s report has also reminded us that not everyone has been impacted equally and we owe it to the groups disproportionately affected to do everything we can to help them to return to activity in the coming weeks and months.” 

Simon Fairhall, Chief Executive of Living Sport, commented, In responding to this challenge of groups across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough that are less active, we need to work directly with them and help them in ways that they want and need us to; not do what we think is best for them. This is especially true of young people and we have prioritised 'youth voice' in all our work with this age-group, just as we are engaging with the residents where we are working in specific communities through our Active New Communities programme. 

Our Work to Improve Activity Levels

Living Sport working with partners across the county, adapted their programmes during lockdown in a bid to continue supporting and inspiring people to be more physically active for the benefit of their physical and mental health. As people are now beginning to return to activity, Living Sport are providing ongoing support where it is needed most. Find out how you can get involved by getting in touch or exploring our website. 

About the Active Lives Survey

The Active Lives Adult Survey, which was established in November 2015, provides a world-leading approach to gathering data on how adults aged 16 and over in England engage with sport and physical activity. 

The survey is conducted to provide decision-makers, government departments, local authorities, delivery bodies and the sport and physical activity sector detailed insight and understanding as to people's sport and physical activity habits. 

It’s carried out by leading research company IPSOS-MORI and produced by Sport England in collaboration with Arts Council England, Public Health England and the Department for Transport. Find out more about the Active Lives Survey.