Brummies are the least active residents in West Midlands new data shows - here’s why

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New data from Sport England shows that people living in Birmingham are the least active in the West Midlands

Adults in Birmingham are less active than the average person in the West Midlands, new figures have revealed.

Sport England said its Active Lives survey shows 2 million more people are exercising regularly compared to 2016. However, it also shows longstanding inequalities remain, with those living in deprived areas still less likely to be active.

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The figures from the survey show 57% of 2,904 respondents aged over 16 in Birmingham said they were active in the year to November, exercising for more than two and a half hours a week – up from 55% the year before.

This was a lower rate than the West Midlands average, where 60% of people had regular physical activity.

The levels of activity across England remained stable since the previous survey in 2021-22, with 29.5 million people meeting the Chief Medical Officers’ guidelines of doing 150 minutes or more of moderate intensity physical activity a week – equivalent to 63% of the adult population.

Why are Brummies less active than the average person living in the West Midlands?

The Institute for Public Policy Research pointed at a “growing divide in activity levels based on where someone lives”. Stephen Frost, principal research fellow at the think tank, said: “Last year, a third of people in the most deprived neighbourhoods were considered inactive compared to a fifth of those in the least deprived.

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“The number of people considered active in the most deprived areas has dropped by 2.5% in the last seven years.” He added: “Across the regions we are seeing some signs of growth in physical activity but generally only in the places that were already doing well – while the West Midlands and the North East have seen barely any change in the numbers of active people in the last seven years.

“If anything speaks to the failure of levelling up it is the inability to address these inequalities in access to healthy places between the UK’s communities.”

Brummies are the least active residents in West MidlandsBrummies are the least active residents in West Midlands
Brummies are the least active residents in West Midlands | PA

The figures also show 12% of adults in Birmingham said they were fairly active, exercising between 30 and 149 minutes a week. Meanwhile, 31% said they were inactive – down from 33% the year before but up from 30% in 2015-16.

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Councillor Liz Green, chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said physical inactivity has a detrimental impact on personal health, and the wider economy.

“We need to tackle the inequalities within our communities which affect access to adults based on their location, wealth, age, ethnicity and gender,” she added. She said access to public leisure centres and green spaces is key to get more adults active.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, said: “Through intelligent and targeted investment it is possible to increase activity levels and impact positively on people’s lives.” He added: “At the moment, how likely you are to be active depends too much on your bank balance and your postcode.

“That’s why we will continue to target our investment in places where it can make the biggest difference and on the groups who have most to gain.”

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