It seems that spring has finally sprung, and while many Brits will be incentivised by the clement weather to take a break from the gym and exercise outdoors, new research from Mintel finds a worrying 30% of the nation admit they rarely or never do sport and exercise.

Today, a quarter (24%) of Brits admit they struggle to motivate themselves to exercise on their own, with cost being the number one reason for not using a public leisure centre or swimming pool (24%). One in five (20%) blame their lethargy on lack of time and as many as 15% of Brits admit to feeling uncomfortable going to the gym or swimming pool because they feel too unfit.

Michael Oliver, Senior Leisure Analyst said:

“The research finds that a significant chunk of the population rarely or never exercise. The leisure centres and swimming pool industry can engage with apathetic consumers in a number of ways; the most obvious way is trial, perhaps by way of offering a reward in return for meeting a challenge (e.g. cycle or run on a machine for two minutes) or simply bringing exercise machines to places where people go in large numbers, such as a shopping centre or high street. Alternatively, they could consider utilising mobile facilities and taking them into the heart of neighbourhoods.”

While a core group of Brits are not exercising, outdoor exercise remains alluring for consumers, with some 16% of all Brits claiming to often ride a bike outdoors for exercise, 14% running or jogging outdoors and 4% doing watersports such as surfing, sailing and rowing. Exercising in the comfort of our homes is also proving a draw – today, a quarter (23%) of Brits exercise in the comfort of their own home – using weights, workout videos and computer game workouts. And showing the importance of technology to today’s health conscious consumers, more than one in twenty (6%) use a health and fitness mobile app.

“A number of factors work to drive home exercise, including self-consciousness, cost and convenience. Many people tend to be self-conscious about their bodies, so the opportunity to work out in the privacy of their own home is a strong pull. Additionally, if they are parents, it also means they do not have to make childcare arrangements. Cost is a factor because once some home exercise equipment has been acquired, there is no ongoing monthly expenditure.” says Michael.

“Outdoor exercise also represents a major competitor to the fitness industry, with the main advantage that, after initial investment in equipment – whether it is a pair of trainers or a bicycle – there is little in the way of regular ongoing outlay. This has particularly chimed with consumers during the economic downturn and particularly because of the squeeze on incomes.” concludes Michael.

Overall, the research finds the nation’s men are more active than women, with just over a quarter (27%) admitting to little or no exercise compared to 34% of women. And it is the young who are the least likely to never or rarely participate in sport and exercise, with as many as one in five (19%) of 16-24s admitting that they do not do any. This compares to more than four in ten over 55s, including 41% of 55-64 year olds and 43% of over 65s.

People living in the Yorkshire and Humberside region are the biggest non-fitness culprits, some 34% admitting to little or no exercise, meanwhile, London boasts the highest level of participation, just a fifth (21%) rarely or never exercise.

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