Sport England’s Active Lives Survey 2020, released today (23 April 2020) shows more of us than ever are walking.   

The results – published today but conducted in the 12 months to November 2019 - show that inactivity levels were falling before the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, with 28.6 million adults doing at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a week. This accounts for 63.3% of the nation’s population and is up 404,600 people on the previous 12 months. 

A strong upward trend in walking is responsible for the majority of this increase, with 20.3million of us walking for leisure (up 1.2m on the previous 12 months) and 15.3million of us walking for travel (up 371,000 on the previous 12 months).  

Additional research, carried out after the government announced its social distancing guidelines shows that 63% of adults in England say it’s more important to be active now, compared to before coronavirus, with walking still proving the most popular activity.  

Man walking

Jenni Wiggle, Interim Chief Executive, Living Streets comments:  

Here at Living Streets we’re thrilled that walking for leisure or travel remains the most popular physical activity, with 1.2 million more people walking for leisure and over 370,000 more people walking for travel 

The results of this survey come at a time when many of us are appreciating being able to get out for a walk. It remains incredibly important to keep active, both for our own wellbeing and to avoid storing up massive health problems for ourselves and the NHS in the future, and walking is one of the most accessible ways to do that.  

However, this pandemic is making us all realise how much public space is given over to individual car use rather than walking and cycling.  

Narrow footways, inappropriate speed limits and cars parked on pavements are all impacting on our ability to exercise safely. Now more than ever, we need to make sure there’s enough space for people to get out and walk.   

With National Walking Month just around the corner in May, it’s the perfect time to ensure we all have enough space to walk – now and in the future.”