Fitness: Worldwide Stats

Words: Kate WHITING

Exercise is proven to keep us fit and healthy as we age — reducing our risk of dementia and boosting our immune systems.

But more than half of us feel they’re not playing enough sport, according to a new global survey of exercise trends.

IPSOS asked more than 21,000 adults from 29 countries about how active they are. Here are some of the key findings:

Which Nations Do The Most & Least Exercise?

  • Citizens of the Netherlands are the most active
  • On average people spend around six hours being active each week, almost an hour each day.

People in the Netherlands are the most physically active, spending more than 12 hours a week exercising, or playing sport, followed by people from Germany and Romania, both at around 11 hours.

This is how much physical activity we all need to stay healthy.

  • Exercise not only helps with mental health; it makes us more creative too, say scientists
  • At the other end of the scale are people in Brazil, Japan, Italy, Chile and France, who do less than four hours of physical activity each week.

One in three people in Japan [34 per cent] said they don’t exercise at all, compared to only 4 per cent of people in the Netherlands, while the global average is 14 per cent.

Lack of time is the most common barrier.

More than half of people [58 per cent] want to play more sport across the 29 countries surveyed, with only 6 per cent people saying they want to play less.

Not having enough time was the main reason people gave for not playing more sport, followed by lack of money and then the weather being either too hot, or too cold.

Not having sports facilities — or, people to play — completed the top five reasons why people aren’t playing as much sport as they’d like.

What’s The Most Popular Sport, Or Form Of Exercise?

Fitness and running are the most commonly practised sports and activities.

Fitness was the most popular form of exercise, done by one in five adults each week, followed by running [19 per cent], cycling [13 per cent], soccer [10 per cent] and swimming [9 per cent].

Rugby and field and ice hockey were the sports played least — at just 1 per cent — while more than a third of people don’t play any sport during the week.

Is there a fitness gender gap?

  • Men play more sport than women on average each week.
  • Men spend 90 more minutes [on average] doing physical exercise than women each week, the survey found.

Men in the Netherlands are the most active, saying they spend 15.2 hours in a normal week doing physical exercise on average. Brazilian and Japanese men spend the least time on average per week [3.4 and 3.9 hours, respectively].

Women in Germany are the most active, followed by Dutch and Romanian women. Italian, Brazilian and Japanese women report the lowest average time spent doing physical exercise per week.

KATE WHITING is a Senior Writer @ Forum Agenda. This article was first published in World Economic Forum [In Which Countries Do People Exercise Most Around the World — and What Stops Them Doing More?], under the Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivatives License 4.0.

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