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Eurobarometer survey reveals disability and illness are stopping many Brits from exercising
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29/03/2010 00:00:00

In a Europe-wide survey of attitudes to sport and physical exercise, Brits were the most likely of all Europeans to cite illness or disability as a reason for not taking part in some sort of physical activity – 22% cited this as a reason against an EU-wide average of 13%. However, in most of the other areas people from the UK were around the EU average - 40% of EU citizens generally and 46% of Britons play organised sport at least once a week and 65% in the EU (73% in UK) engage in some form of physical exercise. These figures are part of a special Eurobarometer Survey on Sport and Physical Activity published by the European Commission today.

 Ireland and the Nordic countries take sport most seriously, with 23% of Irish citizens practising sport 5 times a week or more, while Sweden, Finland and Denmark score the highest ratings for exercising ‘regularly’ or ‘with some regularity’ (once a week or more). At the other end of the scale, only 3% of citizens in Bulgaria, Greece and Italy say they play sport regularly.

Men in the EU play more sport and also exercise more than women. The disparity is particularly marked in the 15-24 age group. The survey also finds a correlation between socio-economic status and physical activity. 64% of people who left school by the age of 15 say they never play sport, while this rate falls to 24% for those who left education after 20.

    The findings were presented at a press conference in Brussels today by Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner responsible for sport, and Michel Platini, President of UEFA, the European football governing body.

    "It is reassuring to see that many Europeans take sport and physical activity seriously, but we also need to do more to encourage citizens who are inactive," said Commissioner Vassiliou. "Sport is good for the body and soul: as the ancient Romans and Greeks used to say, 'a healthy mind in a healthy body'. Sport gives you more energy and helps people to live more active lives. In an ageing society, it is important to help citizens to remain healthy longer.

    "I will therefore be proposing an initiative later this year aimed at encouraging more Europeans to make sport and physical activity part of their daily lives."

    This initiative will be presented as a Communication to the European Parliament and the Council, flanked by a proposal to establish a new Sport Programme which will support projects and supplement policies in the Member States.

    UEFA President Michel Platini said: "The Eurobarometer survey underlines the central role of European sports federations to guarantee the practice of sports at all levels. UEFA is committed to healthy development at grassroots level, which remains a core-objective."

    Eurobarometer findings in full:

    To find out more: or contact the London press office on 020 7973 1971.

    Last update: 30/10/2010  |Top