There are many different assumptions around what makes someone fit and healthy, and a new study has revealed just how important we as a nation think fitness is.
According to a survey of 15,946 UK adults carried out by Decathlon as part of the Decathlon Activity Index, a staggering 62% of Brits say being fit and healthy is important, with nearly 1 in 5 (15%) saying it is their biggest priority.
Interestingly, the older generation are putting greater priority status on being active - 73% of 45-54 years think being fit and healthy is important, compared to only 49% of 25-34 year olds. This is perhaps unsurprising given nearly 1 in 3 respondents say they care more about their fitness as they’ve gotten older.
In addition, 1 in 5 say they prioritise exercise more now than before the pandemic, while 18% say the easing of lockdown means they’ll factor in more time for their fitness. When asked about the benefits of staying active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, more than half (51%) say it makes them feel good, 38% say it helps to control their weight and 37% of those surveyed say it improves their mood.
More than 1 in 3 (36%) say being active helps to improve their mental health, while 35% see the benefits in reducing the chance of illnesses, such as heart disease. The research also uncovered different attitudes and social assumptions about being active, with 47% saying they think a combination of diet and exercise is crucial for a fit and healthy lifestyle.
Nearly 1 in 3 (32%) think exercising will help to improve their mental health, while 25% think you should listen to your body when it needs a rest. Looking at whether diet or exercise is the way to a healthy lifestyle, 17% of respondents say eating well is more important, while 15% say it is all about the exercise – although both are important so neither should be neglected.
In addition, it is clear that millennials (25-34 year olds) don’t put as much value on walking to keep them healthy. Only 15% thinking walking has the same benefits as doing a workout, compared to 41% of over 65s, despite the fact walking is just as good of a workout as being in the gym.
The top five most popular ways to stay active included walking (70%), swimming (31%) running (28%) cycling (24%) and hiking (15%).
It was also revealed that the average Brit exercises three times per week.
Chris Allen, Mountain Sports Leader at Decathlon UK comments: “Maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle is more important than ever, so it’s great to see so many people recognising this and putting their health first.
“There are copious amounts of benefits, including improving your mental health, lifting your mood and boosting self-esteem, so it’s crucial we’re doing all we can to make sports and exercise accessible to everyone, as we do at Decathlon UK. Although there are varying assumptions around fitness and exercise, make sure to educate yourself around the subject to ensure you’re implementing the correct diet and workout routine into your lifestyle – this will ensure you see the most benefits and can stay feeling the healthiest version of yourself.”
Top 10 ways Brits stay active:
1. Walking (70%)
2. Swimming (32%)
3. Running (28%)
4. Cycling (24%)
5. Hiking (15%)
6. Going to the gym (15%)
7. Football (14%)
8. Yoga / pilates (13%)
9. Tennis (12%)
10. Badminton (5%)
The Decathlon Activity Index tracks rates of participation in sport and other physical activities across the year through a national survey repeated every month throughout the year.
Decathlon has 45 stores in the UK and sells a variety of sports equipment, clothing and accessories perfect for those who want to get active, try out new sports or forms of exercise or simply lead a healthy lifestyle.