Brits say getting more exercise is the best way they can support NHS

Posted: Tue, 06 Oct 2020 10:48

Brits say getting more exercise is the best way they can support NHS

Poll shows exercise voted number one way people can help the NHS, ahead of cutting smoking and drinking, improving diet and paying taxes.

Britons believe being physically active to improve health and fitness is the most important thing they can do to support the NHS and reduce pressure on its services, according to new research commissioned by ukactive for National Fitness Day.

The study of 2,123 UK adults by Savanta ComRes* found that 69% of respondents want to do more physical activity or exercise considering the impact of COVID-19. Almost a fifth of respondents (18%) said that being physically active was the best way to support the NHS, with more than half (51%) ranking exercise in the top three ways to help. Next on the list, by a margin, was cutting smoking, followed by improving diet, paying taxes, cutting alcohol, making charitable donations, and volunteering.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put NHS services under extreme pressure, which has led many people to reconsider the ways they approach their personal health, including being more physically active each day.

Regular exercise has been shown to improve a person's ability to regulate the immune system, which is essential for avoiding the severe symptoms of COVID-19. It also reduces the risk of underlying conditions and illnesses which make us vulnerable to the virus, such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers**.

The new research also shines a light on the mental health benefits of physical activity, which millions of Britons have relied on this year. Around three fifths (58%) of respondents said that during lockdown they were able to manage their mental health and wellbeing through being active, and 63% said that participating in sport and physical activity with others can help with feelings of loneliness.

Despite these benefits, the poll showed the perceived value of physical activity is not always reflected by how UK adults spend their time – a quarter of respondents are classed as physically inactive (25%), only doing 30 minutes or less of moderate exercise a week, including 12% who admit they get no exercise at all. The Chief Medical Officer recommends at least two-and-and-a-half hours (150 minutes) of physical activity a week.

*Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,123 UK adults aged 18+ online between 11 and 13 September 2020. Data were weighted to be nationally representative of all UK adults by key demographics including age, gender, region and socio-economic grade. Savanta ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at

**Regular exercise reduces the risk of underlying conditions including a 40% reduced risk of type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (by 35%), dementia (by 30%) and some cancers (by 20%), according to statistics from Public Health England.

(Article: ukactive blog)

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