New poll confirms shortfall
One in five Brits never exercise for 30 minutes or more during a typical week, a new poll from Health-on-Line and YouGov shows.
The research suggests a significant percentage of British adults could be falling short of the government’s recommended target of at least two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week. Some 20% of those polled said they never exercise for 30 minutes or more during a typical week, while a further 18% said they only exercise for 30 minutes or more once a week or less often. Only 21% of respondents exercise five times a week or more.
Of those who do exercise, the most common activity undertaken is walking at a fast pace (63%), followed by attending the gym (16%) and running outside the gym (12%). Swimming and cycling are regular exercises for 11% of those who ever exercise. Londoners were found to be the nation’s biggest gym goers; 17% said they regularly go to the gym, compared with 13% of GB adults overall.
The research also revealed the key motivations behind exercise and the healthy habits linked with regular physical activity. Improving their health was the primary reason given by 26% of those who ever exercise; 17% said the exercise they do is part of their daily routine and 17% said their primary reason for exercising is to lose weight.
Respondents who ever exercise also said exercising led to many other health benefits; 37% said regular exercise encourages them to eat more healthily, 33% of Britons find regular exercise improves their sleeping habits and 33% said it encourages them to drink more water.
The survey also identified barriers to doing more exercise; 40% said lack of time is an obstacle, 17% said it is too expensive to exercise and 12% said not being confident or being too embarrassed is one of their barriers. A further 23% said they could not be bothered to do more exercise.
Too unfit to join in
A separate study from Mintel has also found that one in five (22%) Brits say they don’t feel fit enough to play sport or exercise with other people.
Further showing that many are hesitant to feel the burn, a quarter (26%) of Brits say they find it hard to motivate themselves to play sport or get more exercise. Despite this, over a third (38%) of consumers say they would like to be more active to improve their health, rising to over half (54%) of those who say they don’t feel fit enough to exercise with other people. Today in Britain, 36% of consumers have not played or participated in sport in the past 12 months, rising to over half (61%) of those over 65 and 52% aged 55-64.
However, it seems that it is UK women who are finding it harder to get into the ‘no pain no gain’ mindset. Indeed, 41% of women have not played sport in the past year, with a third (33%) agreeing that they find it hard to motivate themselves. Despite this, 44% of women say they would like to be more active to improve their health.
“Not feeling fit enough to play with others could be one expression of a more general lack of physical confidence that stems from unfamiliarity with sport more widely – it is significant that this attitude is most common among older people, who are least likely to take part in sport either individually or with others. However, the fact that it is also more common among people who play sport with other family members suggests promoting this type of play could be a useful means of breaking down these wider barriers. Playing with family offers a supportive setting in which people who have not played in many years can regain their confidence and enthusiasm for sport.”
David Walmsley, Senior Leisure Analyst, Mintel
Indeed, 21% of Brits who have played sport with their family in the past year say they don’t feel fit enough to play sport or exercise with other people. However, Mintel’s research shows that the strongest advocators of the importance of exercise are UK parents. Whilst over a third (38%) of parents say they try to encourage their children to play sport to help them develop a healthy lifestyle, 55% of this group agree playing sport or exercising regularly means you don’t have to worry too much about what you eat, compared to a national mean of 10%. Furthermore, three in five (59%) of this group say that playing sport socially is an enjoyable way to look after their health compared to an average of 30%.
In addition, British parents who encourage their children in sport are the most likely to believe in the importance of group exercise. As many as 62% agree that playing organised sport makes it easier to stick to a fitness or weight-loss programme than going to the gym or exercising alone, whilst an average of just 15% of Brits agree the same.
Furthermore, whilst 43% of Brits play two or more sports, the nation’s favourite form of exercise is swimming, with three in 10 (29%) having swum in the past year. Cycling comes in second, with 19% having done this and jogging third (17%). When it comes to trying new sports, 44% of Brits are interested in trying individual sports, 25% outdoor or alternative sports and 23% racquet sports. Although swimming comes top again, with 17% interested in trying this in the future, it’s yoga and Pilates that appears second on the list with 12% of Brits interested in participating in this in the future, rising to 19% of women.
However, despite recent successes of UK female sport teams, women seem to be more reluctant to take up stereotypical male sports in the future, with just 4% of women who haven’t played sport in the past year interested in trying golf in the future, 2% football and 1% cricket. In comparison, 10% of men who haven’t played sport in the last year would be interested in playing golf, 8% football and 7% cricket.
Finally, when it comes to locating the sportiest areas, it seems that those living in the South East and East Anglia are the most reluctant to feel the burn, as two in five (40%) living in this area say they’ve not participated in any sport in the past 12 months. Inner and Greater London however hold the sportiest residents as just 31% say they’ve not done any exercise in the last year.