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Big rise in active travel among young people in past five years

Deniz Huseyin
14 December 2023
Active Lives Children and Young People Survey Academic year 2022-23
Active Lives Children and Young People Survey Academic year 2022-23


There are one million more children and young people walking, cycling or scootering to get to places than there were five years ago, according to a new Sport England report.

The proportion of children and young people getting to places by active travel is up over the longer term following growth before the Covid-19 pandemic, the report says. There are now 11.5% or one million more children and young people travelling by active means than five years ago (academic year 2017-18).

“We see a similar picture for children and young people going for walks with current levels up compared with academic year 2017-18 despite being below the peak of the coronavirus pandemic seen in academic year 2020-21,” says Sport England. “There are 6.7% or 592,000 more children and young people going for a walk than five years ago.”

However, the report also confirms previous findings that cost-of-living concerns have impacted children and young people’s relationship with sport and physical activity.

Sport England’s Activity Check-in revealed that almost one in five parents/carers said they were using free activities for their children to socialise with friends instead of paid, while 12% said they'd reduced the regularity of paid activities.

Children and young people from the least affluent families are the least likely to be active, with only 44% meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines – compared with 55% of those from the most affluent families.

Also, the number of children doing no activity at all in the previous seven days has increased with 127,000 more children (1.4%) falling into this category compared with 2017-18, meaning there are now more than 600,000 children in England doing no activity at all, says Sport England.

While all groups have seen growth over the last five years (compared with academic year 2017-18), this has been slightly greater among those from the least affluent families (up 5.5% v 3.5% for most affluent), so the gap in activity levels between those from the most and least affluent families has narrowed slightly.

Active Lives Children and Young People Survey Academic year 2022-23

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