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‘Greater public understanding’ of links between activity and health

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The number of people exercising for the express purpose of benefiting their health has more than doubled over the past five years, according to new research.

The findings from the Health and Fitness Omnibus Survey (HAFOS) suggest that there is an increasing public appetite to embrace physical activity as part of a healthy lifestyle. Just 25 per cent of people surveyed in 2011 said improving or maintaining their health was their motive for exercising, compared to 55 per cent of people in 2015. The HAFOS survey typically covers around 1,500 people each year.

The statistical analysis is part of a six-year review of HAFOS released by Leisure-net Solutions ahead of this year’s research, which will take place in March and focus on exercising outdoors.

Encouragingly, survey respondents who said they undertake the recommended five sessions of activity a week jumped to 36 per cent in 2015, while those admitting to none fell to just 14 per cent – the highest and lowest figures in the survey’s six year history.

The findings suggest that the growing momentum – from public health campaigns such as ukactive’s Turning the tide of inactivity and Public Health England’s Everybody Active, Every Day framework – behind tackling physical activity may be beginning to nudge the needle.

For the forthcoming 2016 HAFOS survey, researchers are taking cues from the continuing rise in popularity of outdoor exercise groups, such as British Military Fitness and Park Run, to explore community perceptions of exercise taken outdoors.

“Knowing what your wider community, along with non-users, really think of your services in these challenging and changing times is key,” said Mike Hill, director of Leisure-net Solutions.

“By understanding the needs and wants of both users and non-users, operators can improve their customer service, brand loyalty and ultimately impact their bottom line while helping to meet targets to increase participation.”

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The number of people exercising for the express purpose of benefiting their health has more than doubled over the past five years, according to new research.
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