Active Lives - changing habits and the importance of innovation

In our last blog post, we reflected upon the latest release of Sport England's Active Lives research and discussed the key activities responsible for participation in sport. If you haven’t read that post yet, take a read here.

For this blog, we’re going to look at some more specific data on smaller activities and discuss the changes in participation whilst providing insight and reason for this. In particular, we are going to look at the change in participation of four key activities; team sports, adventure sports, fitness classes and interval sessions.
Team Sports – The research has highlighted a decline in team sport participation (from 3.5m to 3.2m*); something which is altogether unsurprising. Convenience and innovation lead the way when it comes to participation in sport and team sport often fail to fit either of these categories. It’s become increasingly difficult to organise individuals into teams, secure facilities and hire equipment all at an affordable cost.
It would also appear that in general there is a sense of ‘boredom’ associated with these traditional sports. This is likely to be partly attributable to the school sport and PE model in which team sport participation is enforced and this negative stigma is likely to influence choices in adult life.

Fitness Class/Interval Sessions – Alongside the decline in team sport participation, there has been a notable increase in popularity of fitness classes and interval sessions (+518k*). This is somewhat unsurprising as these activities provide a platform upon which traditional activities can be modified to create new and exciting things for people to get involved in.
The examples are endless; spin classes, HIIT classes, Crossfit and Barre to name a few. All of these activities are adapted with innovative ideas that attract a range of people to participate, even those that have been somewhat inactive for a long time. Not only that, but participation in these activities requires minimal effort from the individual – they can turn up and take part with other like-minded individuals without having to think about what to do. 

Adventure Sports - Similarly, participation in adventure sports has also increased (+337k*). Again, this fits with the above rationale that people are now looking for new, unique activities to get involved in and are moving away from conventional exercise types. A great example of this is the surge in popularity of indoor climbing and bouldering. This activity is cheap, accessible, and sociable whilst requiring minimal effort on the participants behalf. The popularity is enhanced with excitement and innovation as people from all backgrounds are can get involved in something that has been previously unaccessible. 

All in all, it appears that the key factors affecting participation in sport are convenience, affordability and innovation. Companies looking to engage the active world should keep this in mind as the consumer journey becomes even more important in encouraging people to get out and sweat. 

*Note: based on the number of people engaging in activities at least twice in the last 28 days 
Charlotte Kennedy // Campaigns Executive