England’s lockdown in March prompted nearly 12 million people to ditch exercise, a new report has found.

According to a survey of 190,000 people, carried out by the Sport England Active Lives organisation, 30% of adults opted for a more a sedentary lifestyle until restrictions were lifted in May.

The percentage of people who admitted doing less than 30 minutes of exercise a week rose by 7.4% when compared to figures recorded before COVID-19 took over.

The findings found the older generation, those with little money and minority ethnic groups were particularly inactive.

One of the main problems was gyms and leisure centres were forced to close and many people did not have the space at home to carry out any indoor activities. Many people reported living too far away from any parks to take part in an outdoor activity.

Sport England, an organisation which helps develop grassroots sport and encourage exercise, asked each survey participant to note down any activities they carried out over a 28-day period.

The authors said their findings suggested there were ‘unprecedented’ reductions in activity levels during the first seven weeks of the lockdown.

Speaking to the Guardian newspaper, Sport England’s chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said: “The early months of lockdown brought unprecedented disruption to our lives and had a huge impact on our overall engagement in sport and physical activity, it is also positive to see how many people turned to new activities.

“It also highlights the challenges this year has brought to those groups who already find it harder than most to be active, with disabled people, people with health conditions and younger people struggling.

“[It reminds] us of the importance of educational settings, community leisure facilities and team sports that underpin access to activity for so many people across England.”

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