Active Disabled

Disability and long term health conditions

Following on from the great news in the latest ‘Active Lives Adult Survey‘ report from Sport England, that Oldies were leading the way in increasing the nations active lifestyle.  We must also add the fantastic news that there has been a growth in the activity levels of disabled adults and those with a long-term health condition.

It has always been understood that there will be more inactivity for disabled people or those with a long-term health condition (41%) than those without (20%).  However, this does not seem to be creating too many problems as the numbers getting active has ‘significantly increased’.


The proportion of disabled adults or those with a long-term health condition who are active has increased by 2.1% and there is an associated decrease in those who are inactive, a reduction of 1.4% over the last year.  However, this increase is drive by adults with two impairments.

So, lets take a closer look into the available data

Numbers Active % Active of total diabled
Numbers Inactive % Inactive of total disabled
Disabled 4,352,000 46.1 3,871,000 41.0
1 Impairment
1,093,400 55.3 972,500 31.3
2 Impairments 1,077,300 49.0 958,250 37.8
3 Impairments 2,047,700 37.9 1,821,400 49.4

This clearly shows that over half of all people with a disability and long-term health condition with one impairment, are classed as active.  This is closely followed by those with two impairments at just under half.

What is also encouraging is that only one third of all people with a disability and long-term health condition with one or two impairments are inactive.

Photo – Glyn Dodwell

Where we see the trend change is amongst those with three impairments.  Here only one third are active and half are inactive.  But having said that we are still looking at over two million in this category are active.

Looking at the national trends we see that, with the exception of those with three impairments.  There is a significant increase in those getting active and a significant decrease in those remaining inactive.

% Active Change
Significance % Inactive Change
Disabled 2.4 Increase -2.3 Decrease
1 Impairment 2.9 Increase -2.2 Decrease
2 Impairments 2.4 Increase -2.1 Decrease
3 Impairments 1.1 No Change -1.2 No Change

As the report succinctly concludes :-

“These improved results reflect both maintenance of those currently active and growth in overall activity levels across England. They have been driven by older adults (aged 55+), those with a disability or long-term health condition and women.”

It is just a shame that they a picked up on the fact that inactivity is more common for those with a disability or long-term health condition (41%) than those without (20%).

However, whichever way you look at it, this has been a remarkable achievement for all those involved in getting more active.  Much work has been done by the Sport England We Are Undefeatable campaign, a national campaign to support the 15 million people who live with one or more long-term health conditions in England.


© Sport England

Sport England’s research showed that:

  • 69% of people living with long-term health conditions would like to be more active.
  • 66% say it would help manage or improve their condition, with improved mood and wellbeing seen as the biggest benefit (52%).
  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of people with a long-term health condition feared that physical activity would make their health issues worse and two in five (44%) would like more help and advice on how to be more active.

There is still a long way to go but already there are signs that every sector of the national population is starting to get more active.  We just need to maintain this progress.

So, if you know someone with a disability and long-term health condition – say to them

“will you go out with me”


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