New study reveals 3-in-4 people aren't exercising enough

Nearly 75 per cent of Brits aren't reaching the NHS' recommended exercise guidelines, according to a new study.

The research, released by Nuffield Health, found that on average, Britons are moving 18 minutes more per week than in 2022, averaging 83 minutes of moderate exercise a week. However, 74 per cent of us are still not reaching the NHS recommended guidelines of 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. The data revealed that motivation, financial issues and health concerns were common barriers to exercise.

The study correlated the lack of physical activity with a negative impact on people's mental health. Over a quarter (28 per cent) of respondents reported a decline in their mental health in the last year. They also linked it to our working lives, with many of those surveyed claiming that being physically unwell reduced their productivity.

The new research, based on responses from 8,000 UK adults, also highlights that over half (53 per cent) blame a lack of motivation as their main barrier to physical activity, with 6 in 10 women listing this as their biggest barrier to getting more active. Further barriers include misconceptions about how to exercise.

Regular exercise is important for both our mental and physical health. According to the NHS, exercising regularly can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, plus lowering your risk of dying early by up to 30 per cent.

The study also showed that the younger generation appears to be less aware of the impacts of exercise, with less than 4 in 10 16-24-year-olds understanding that exercise can improve mental health. Body confidence issues also play a huge role in why the younger generation isn't moving more.

In response to these worrying findings, Nuffield Health is leading the call for all major political parties to commit to a National Movement Strategy to promote more physical activity and movement into everyday life.

Commenting on this latest research, Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Nuffield Health's Medical Director, said: 'Whilst it’s encouraging to see improvements in activity levels, it’s surprising and worrying to see that there is still a lack of understanding of the benefits movement has in preventing and treating long-term conditions. We’re already seeing the detrimental effects inactivity levels are having on our health, but it’s also having an economic impact.'

She goes on to say that it is critical that as a 'nation we prioritise movement and work collectively across government, healthcare providers, employers and the fitness industry, as well as at a community level, to find solutions to help people find ways to build movement into their everyday lives.’

Dame Kelly Holmes, a Nuffield Health ambassador, also added: 'Movement has so many benefits for both body and mind, and there needs to be more awareness and understanding of this. For some it might be running a half marathon or sweating it out in the gym, however, for others it’s a leisurely swim, a brisk walk to the shops or a commitment to take regular breaks away from the desk that can make all the difference.

'By breaking down physical activity into enjoyable and manageable forms that suit you, your motivation increases and it’s no longer perceived as a chore. Once these changes become a habit, then you can make more and build on them.'

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