You//Fitness and Health
by Marcus Leach
We live in an age where the importance of keeping fit and leading a healthy, active lifestyle are highlighted to us on a regular basis. There seems to be an endless stream of evidence suggesting a wide-variety of health benefits associated with exercise, although in truth common sense tells most of us that we need to exercise in order to remain healthy.
However, it would appear that many of us are too ashamed of our flagging fitness levels and as such are reluctant to take part in any group-based physical activity. Research from Mintel shows 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.
When you take into account the worrying trend of rising obesity levels the lack of confidence in exercise starts to become a bigger concern.
"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," David Walmsley, Senior Leisure Analyst at Mintel, said.
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."
As with most things in life it is about creating good habits from a young age, which means parents play a vital role in ensuring their children have the confidence from a young age to take part in sport and exercise. But this goes beyond the actual act of exercise but the lifestyle as well, as it is about supplementing exercise with a healthy diet. Sadly many feel that because they exercise they are free to eat whatever they please.
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%.
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.
"High levels of recognition from parents of the health value of sport is positive for children’s participation and could be a way of keeping children’s weight in check, Walmsley added. "Creating more opportunities for parents to play or exercise alongside children – either in the same session or the same setting – could therefore appeal to those keen to set a good example as a means of encouraging the sport for health habits they want to instil in their kids."