Key data: physical activity

Statistics on men and physical activity

Compiled by Men’s Health Forum, June 2014

Men are more likely than women to be physically active.

  • In England in 2012, 67% of men and 55% of women aged 16 and over reported that they met the government’s recommendations for physical (aerobic) activity. (Reference: Information Centre).
    • Actual physical activity levels however may be much lower. In 2008 an accelerometer study found that only 6% of men and 4% of women achieved the government’s recommended level (Reference: Information Centre).

The proportion of people who self-report meeting the recommendations for physical (aerobic) activity fell more consistently declined with age in men.

  • In England in 2008, 83% of 16-24 year old men met the recommendations. However this fell to 75% for 25-34 year olds, 71% for 35-44s, 69% for 45-54s, 54% for 55-64s, and 57% for 65-74s (Reference: HSE). 
  • For women, the proportions meeting the guidelines rose to a peak among those aged 35-44 (66%) before decreasing as age increased, with 52% for 65-74s (Reference: HSE).

Ethnicity and income are also factors for levels of physical activity.

  • Men in the lowest quintile of household income are much less likely than men in the four higher quintiles to meet the recommendations. Whereas 76% men in the highest quartile met the recommendations, only 55% in the lowest quartile did the same (Reference: HSE).
  • Men from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Chinese groups are also less likely to meet the recommendations for physical activity (Reference: BHF).

Men and women have been found to have different barriers to doing more activity.

  • Men were most likely to cite work commitments as a barrier to increasing their physical activity (45%), while lack of leisure time was the barrier most cited by women (37%) (Reference: Information Centre).
  • In 2007, women were slightly more likely than men to want to be more physically active than at present (69% and 66% respectively) (Reference: Information Centre).


The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. Especially during a major pandemic like Covid-19. So we’re asking.

Men appear more likely to get Covid-19 and far, far more likely to die from it. The Men's Health Forum are working hard pushing for more action on this from government, from health professionals and from all of us. Why are men more affected and what can we do about it? We need the data. We need the research. We need the action. Currently we're the only UK charity doing this - please help us.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.

Registered with the Fundraising Regulator