Suffolk/Essex: Number of people playing sport regularly sees healthy increase in Sport England survey

Runners taking part in the Ipswich Parkrun, held in Chantry Park, Ipswich

Runners taking part in the Ipswich Parkrun, held in Chantry Park, Ipswich - Credit: Archant

The number of people playing sport regularly in Suffolk and Essex has increased by around five percent as revealed by new figures.

Sport England published its Active People Survey which shows that the percentage of adults involved in sport or active recreation for at least three days a week has seen a healthy increase.

The figures in 2005/06 for Suffolk was 20.1%, while in Essex the figure was 20.5%. Fast forward eight years and the figures have shot up to 25.2% and 25.5% respectively.

John Clough, director of Suffolk Sport, said: “One challenge is that we have to get people who are totally inactive to being active. We know that being active has such an impact on broad health issues: being overweight, people with heart conditions, cancer and diabetes.

“Clearly the Olympics were a fantastic event and did have an impact but I think particularly in Suffolk the work done about the Most Active County aspiration is important - it demonstrates a commitment that the legacy of 2012 does continue.”

Volunteers in Ipswich setup its own free Parkrun event in September 2012.

The popular weekly event is for people of any ability and age to go round the three mile course at their own pace.

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At its first event 95 people turned up, compared to 185 in September this year. Almost 1,600 people have taken part in the events, held mostly in Chantry Park, with the runners clocking up enough miles to take them round the Equator.

Rory Marriott, Ipswich Parkrun’s event director, said: “We have ages ranging from five to 82, times from 16 and a half minutes to one hour. What we are finding is that the Parkrun is a very good way for people to get into fitness as no-one is investing anything as it’s free.”

He said Parkrun can help break down the perception barrier of people at running clubs being elite athletes.

The number of people involved in sport for at least 30minutes, once a week, every week, as shown in the survey is 33.6% for Suffolk and 36.2% for Essex, in 2012/13. This compares to figures for the previous year for 33.9% Suffolk and 38% in Essex.

The Active People Survey used the largest sample size ever established for a survey of its kind – 165,000 adults. Its findings are published every six months.

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