80% of adults in England 'don't exercise enough'

New study of 1 million adults in England also found that poorer individuals were more likely to be unhealthy

New research conducted by the University of Bristol has found that 80 per cent of adults in England are failing to meet government targets for exercise.

The Government currently recommends that adults partake in moderate exercise at least twelve times over a four-week period.

Official guidelines define ‘moderate exercise’ as activities that “cause adults to get warmer and breathe harder and their hearts to beat faster, but they should still be able to carry on a conversation”. Examples include cycling and walking briskly.

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, surveyed more than a million adults on their exercising habits.

It also covered individuals’ socioeconomic position and found that poorer and less-educated individuals were more likely to be inactive.

 Those with a higher socioeconomic status were more likely to be active whilst only 12 per cent of individuals with a degree were designated ‘inactive’. Those without qualifications were three times as likely to not exercise.

The study found that 46 per cent of people had not walked for leisure for thirty minutes continuously; that 88 per cent had not been swimming and that 90 per cent had not been to a gym in the previous weeks.

Amongst people who were able to walk just over 8 per cent said that hadn’t even walked for five minutes straight in the previous four weeks.

“Physical inactivity is the most important modifiable health behaviour for chronic disease so knowing who is physically inactive is important for designing cost-effective policy interventions,” says Carol Propper, professor of economics at Bristol’s Centre for Market and Public Organisation

She noted that the findings “suggest that financial as well as cultural barriers need to be overcome to reduce the prevalence of physical inactivity.”

Government recommendations suggest that adult activity should “add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more – one way to approach this is to do 30 minutes on at least 5 days a week.”