New Active Lives data shows 48% of children in Cumbria are active

December 20, 2022

New data results show 48% of children in Cumbria are active

New data released by Sport England shows that 48.6% of school aged children are active in Cumbria which means they are taking part in sport and physical activity on average for more than 60 minutes a day. The new Active Lives survey looks at data from the academic year 2021/2022.  

Active Cumbria, part of Cumbria County Councils Public Health Team supported schools in the county to take part in the Active Lives survey, which is the largest of its kind and a comprehensive study of activity levels among children and young people aged 5-16 in England. The annual statistics provide detailed insight and understanding around their sport and physical activity habits.

Figures in the latest data released 8 December 2022 show that 48.6% or 28,100 Cumbrian children are meeting the Chief Medical Officers recommendations of more than 60 minutes of activity a day, every day of the week compared to 47.2% nationally.

The data also show that 30.8% or 17,800 children in Cumbria are less active, meaning they do fewer than 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Slightly higher than the national average of 30.1%

Across the County there are variations within the districts with Copeland coming top of the list with 58% of children achieving 60 minutes or more every day, compared to Allerdale where 44.9% of children are achieving this.


The data table shows Sport & Physical Activity levels overall for England, Cumbria and each of the six districts:


Active Every Day

60 mins a day or more

Less Active

30 mins a day or less




















46.9% (2018/19 data)

24.7% (2018/19 data)

South Lakeland




The national results of the survey show some significant inequalities in activity levels, based on family income. In total, 35.6% of children in the least affluent families do fewer than 30 minutes of activity a day, compared to 24.9% of children from the most affluent families.

And while 55.6% of all children can swim 25 metres unaided by the time they leave primary school, this figure drops to 34.7% for children from the least affluent families and is at 76.4% for the most affluent.

Other findings include:

  • Boys’ activity levels have largely driven recovery, after a notable decline during the pandemic. 50% of boys are now doing an average of 60 minutes a day compared to 45% of girls
  • Recovery is not universal with those in school years 3-4 (ages 7-9) not yet back at pre- pandemic levels, suggesting Covid has been most disruptive to younger ages’ activity habits.
  • Active play (62%), team sports (58%) and active travel (57%) are the most common activities across all children & young people, up 6.2%, 8.4% and unchanged respectively year-on-year.
  • Those taking part in running, athletics and multi-sports have fallen sharply compared to 12 months ago and are now 6.2% below pre-pandemic (2018/19 academic year) levels.
  • Swimming levels remain 5.6% below pre-pandemic levels too. Just 72% of children aged 11-12 are able to swim competently, confidently and proficiently over 25m, down 4% on 12 months ago, and 6.3% on pre-pandemic levels.

The survey, carried out independently by Ipsos, also covers the ‘outcomes’ of sport and activity and helps to show the benefits of being active on both the physical and mental wellbeing of children, but also their personal development and that of their community.

Chief Executive of Sport England Tim Hollingsworth, comments on the latest data results; “It is encouraging to see that activity levels for children and young people have recovered to pre-pandemic levels. This is thanks to everyone involved in the sport and physical activity sector, from teachers, volunteers, parents and carers and not least the children themselves.

This overall growth is positive but there’s more to do to help children and young people from all backgrounds enjoy the benefits of sport and physical activity.

We’re seeing success through Sport England’s programmes like our Secondary School Teacher Training programme to upskill PE teachers in how to promote sport and PE throughout school, and Studio You, the free video-based PE lessons for girls aged 13-16 powered by the This Girl Can campaign. It is great also to see that activity levels are higher in our Local Delivery Pilot areas, where the emphasis is on ‘whole system’ responses to generating opportunities for sport and activity.

But we have a long way to go still to change the overall level to where it needs to be. That’s why we will advocate for children and young people, particularly those facing inequalities and less likely to take part in sport and physical activity, to be given a voice in decisions which affect their experiences to help ensure that those experiences are positive.”

Deborah Earl, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Community Services at Cumbria County Council comments: “The Active Lives survey data is key to us understanding activity levels for children and young people in Cumbria and I welcome the release of this latest data.  It is reassuring to see that activity levels in Cumbria are better than the national average in a number of areas. On the face of it, it could be perceived as a positive story, that 28,100 children in Cumbria are meeting national recommended guidelines and leading active lives, but collectively we must recognise the challenge ahead of us to help those that are not meeting the recommended guidelines, there is more to do to help children be more active and Active Cumbria working with other delivery partners are essential in helping to reduce physical activity inequalities which exist in Cumbria.”

Active Cumbria Senior Manager (Operations), Richard Johnston comments “This latest data clearly demonstrates the importance of the work of Active Cumbria in supporting schools to embed physical activity into their ethos so that more children and young people are active.  Our 5-year plan sets out our commitment to improving lives through physical activity – we know that developing a positive relationship with physical activity at primary school age encourages young people to develop a positive relationship with activity which leads to a lifelong commitment to an active and healthy lifestyle.  We are fully committed to delivering a range of services which builds on the great work already being done by many schools and provide support as and when needed.”