We're the lazy slobs of northern Europe
Fancy England for the World Cup this year? We've got no chance if our levels of exercise compared to those of our European partners are anything to go by.
In the latest Eurobarometer survey of sport and physical activity, 27% of UK respondents - that's more than one in four - said they never or seldom took any exercise at all.
The UK was out-exercised by Denmark (where just 15% of people never or seldom exercise), the Netherlands (16%), Sweden (16%), Slovenia (20%) Finland (22%) Germany (22%), Latvia (23% ), Estonia (23%), Luxembourg (23%) and France (25%). Yep, not even in the top ten - a dismal performance reminiscent of our more recent efforts in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Thanks to the Mediterranean countries - where at least they can argue it's too hot to exercise - and the EU's new eastern European members, it would be unfair to call the UK the lazy slob of the entire continent but we're certainly the lazy man of northern Europe.
The survey is timely as sport and physical activity is the theme that some European countries including those in the UK are adopting for Men's Health Week 2010.
Men aged 40-54 need to get active
Across Europe men tend to do more sport than women but when it comes to general physical activity there is far less difference between the two sexes . In fact, men over 40 - the group the MHF is particularly targeting in Men's Health Week - are less likely to be physically active than women of the same age. It appears that for many men, once they stop competitive sport, they stop all other exercise too.
In Europe, more men (35%) aged 15-24 exercise regularly than women in the same age group (28%). Men are also more active than women in the 70+ group: 31% of men in this group exercise regularly, as opposed to 24% of women. But the trend is reversed in the 40-54 age group, in which only 24% of men exercise regularly compared with 28% of women, and 62% of men exercise at least once a week (‘regularly’ or ‘with some regularity’), as opposed to 68% of women. Are women more health-conscious in this age group or is it that they tend to have more time for exercise?
While a clear majority of EU citizens (65%) get some form of physical exercise at least once a week, at least a third of Europeans - 34% - never or seldom take any exercise. And this, remember, is a survey in which people are asked to evaluate themselves. The true picture may be worse.
- Check out malehealth's Men's Health Week 2010 section
- All the UK data from the Eurobarometer survey is on the MHF website.
Page created on May 5th, 2010
Page updated on May 6th, 2010