'Silver pound' a significant growth driver for public leisure
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'Silver pound' a significant growth driver for public leisure

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There is a major opportunity for the physical activity sector to grow the market
– Utku Toprakseven

Creating opportunities for older people to get physically active represents a major driver for growth in public leisure, according to new research.

A study by ukactive and the DataHub – based on nine million members and 246 million individual visits across 596 leisure centres over the past three years – shows that people aged 65 or older currently make up 12 per cent of leisure centre members, compared to 22 per cent of the population.

The Moving Communities: Active Leisure Trends 2019, published on 25 June, also reveals that while the proportion of older members has increased slightly over the past two years (from 7 per cent to 8 per cent), there is still major room for growth in attracting older customers.

Other key insights include that UK leisure members are more diverse than Britain in general, with ethnic minorities making up 26 per cent of leisure centre members – compared to 14 per cent of the general population.

Females continue to make up the majority of leisure centre members, growing by 1 per cent over the past year, to 54 per cent of members in 2019.

Swimming continues to remain the most popular activity, making up 42 per cent of visits, while aerobics and spin classes were the two most popular group workouts, making up 11 per cent of visits.

“The Moving Communities report offers unprecedented insight into the consumer habits and trends driving public leisure in the UK, allowing the sector to better understand the people they serve," ukactive acting CEO Huw Edwards said.

“As pressure mounts on the UK’s health and social care systems, it is vital that we get older people moving more, allowing them to lead healthier, happier lives in their later years.

“This report shows there is a major opportunity for the physical activity sector to grow the market and meet the needs of older people who are not as active as they should be.”

DataHub director Utku Toprakseven added: “Through analysis of activity data, operators can understand which sports and groups workouts can most effectively engage with this segment and which are most effective at generating social value in health and wellbeing.

“What is most important is that operators and the industry as a whole action this insight to develop an offer which serves the entire community and that we work collaboratively to move forward the national debate about the role sport and activity can play in achieving positive health and wellbeing outcomes.”

To download and read the full report, click here.

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Creating opportunities for older people to get physically active represents a major driver for growth in public leisure, according to new research.
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