Can’t be bothered to exercise

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
March 05, 2010, 1:15 AM GMT+0

While the majority recognise that lack of exercise is the biggest hindrance towards better health, a far lower proportion actually do the recommended daily amount to keep themselves healthy, a poll conducted on behalf of the British Heart Foundation has found.

Although 74% considered themselves to be healthy, when asked about exercise habits, a significant 48% admitted to doing less than the stipulated average of 30 minutes or more, and an even lower proportion (15%) came clean to declare their daily average at a whopping 0 minutes – bad news for the British Heart Foundation, who cite exercise as a key protector against heart disease.

Only 27% reported doing more than 30 minutes, and a very similar 27% admitted to ‘kidding themselves’ about the amount of exercise they do ‘to make themselves feel better’. Coincidence?

Too busy to exercise

Awareness about the benefits of regular activity seems to be on the rise. Lack of exercise came top on the list of people’s biggest health sins at 30%, hinting at a layer of guilt as well as excess love handles. But 44% say they are too busy to maintain a regular programme of sports sessions or gym visits. Young people and students under 24 are the worst culprits, with a considerable 58% citing lack of time as the main reason behind less than sprightly habits - not helping their ‘lazy’ reputation. Even full-time workers, married couples and people with two children found that time was less of an issue, at 53%, 54% and 57% respectively.

But being too busy is only the first problem. Coming a sluggish second place in the list of reasons respondents gave for their lack of exercise was the fact that they simply can’t be bothered. Again, students and young people were the most to blame, with 54% selecting this option. In direct contrast, just 13% of those polled stated that nothing stopped them from exercising.

Food was also an issue. Aside from sports, Britain thinks its biggest health sin is not eating enough fruit and vegetables at 20%, although women worry slightly more about this than men. Just 10% quoted binge drinking as their worst offence, despite constant media coverage of increasing rates of inebriety (this time men came top, with 12% reporting binge drinking compared to women’s 9%). Only 17% admitted smoking was their worst habit.

When it comes to exercise, it seems that the majority are acutely aware of its importance...and sadly, their lack of it.

For full survey and results, please click below