Improved mental health is now the strongest motivation for Brits to exercise – even ahead of the prospect of staying in shape.
That is the main finding of a survey of 2,271 people – commissioned by ukactive and conducted by Savanta – which shows that more than half of respondents (54%) consider their main motivation for keeping physically active to be improving their mental health.
Of those responding to the survey, less than half (49%) said their main motivation was to stay in shape and physically fit.
The findings show people are increasingly aware of the physical and mental benefits of being active, with 86 per cent agreeing that keeping physically active can help prevent various illnesses and injuries from occurring.
This raised awareness is partly attributed to the messaging throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, which focused on how people with underlying issues, such as obesity, were more vulnerable to falling seriously ill with the virus, while exercise was among the only activities which allowed people to leave their houses during lockdowns.
Sports Minister, Stuart Andrew said: “Physical activity is hugely beneficial to our mental and physical health, which is why we are aiming to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030.
“We’re determined to drive up participation and that starts with 150 minutes of exercise a week for adults and 60 minutes a day for young people.
“Whether that’s at school, in a gym, on the pitch or court, you can make a huge difference to your health and the health of the nation by getting active.”
Huw Edwards, CEO of ukactive, said: “More people are recognising the incredible mental benefits of being active in their daily lives, not just the physical rewards.
“These findings show the huge opportunity to ease our nation’s mental and physical health crisis if we can raise awareness of the importance of physical activity, alongside better nutrition and ensure everyone has the chance to be active.
“We’re on a mission with other leading organisations in the sector to make the UK the most active nation in Europe.”