Statistics, covering October 2014 to March 2015, show that 15.5 million people did some kind of sport once a week, every week. This is 222,000 fewer than six months ago.
Of the top three sports in England – swimming (2.5m), running (2.2m) and cycling (2.1m) – swimming was the big loser, seeing 144,200 fewer taking to the pool in the last six months and 390,700 fewer over the last year. According to Sport England, 729,000 people stopped swimming in the last decade.
The other significant drop was seen in the keepfit and gym sector, down 153,000 – the first dip in numbers since Sport England started counting.
Cycling’s current sports participation figures are 2,059,800 (April 2014 to March 2015), slightly under the 2,110,700 for 2013/2014 but noticeably up from around a decade ago: in 2005/2006 – when the survey began – the number was 1,685,700, a rise of 374,100 or 22 per cent.
The survey notes once a week participation in sport (1×30 minute moderate intensity).
Sport England’s Chief Executive, Jennie Price, said: “These are really disappointing results. This is especially the case for swimming, where a serious, long-term decline needs to be reversed.
“Whilst we’ve seen the number of people playing sport increase by 1.4 million since we won the right to host the London 2012 Games, these results highlight that our current investment model has delivered all the growth available in the traditional markets for sport.
“We have already started working with a wider range of partners and will be looking further at with whom we work, and what we invest in, to get more people playing sport. For example in basketball, we are now working closely with a number of charities and these results show that basketball is on the rise.”
Meanwhile, new Strava data has shown huge growth in cycling take-up by women. The performance measuring app says there has been a year-on-year 82 percent increase in womens’ membership.
Over the last 12 months women on Strava have logged 44 million cycling kilometres in the UK. Strava says women are embracing the social side of cycling with over 30 percent of all rides recorded as a group ride in the last 12 months.
Additional reporting from Carlton Reid.