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. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.

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

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