UK ranks below global average in terms of number of people who exercise regularly

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UK ranks below global average in terms of number of people who exercise regularly

Brits over the age of 78 are more than twice as likely to have been active every day during their childhood – than their Gen Z counterparts, a study has found. A new “State of Mind” index has ranked 22 countries around the world, based on the number of people who exercise across different age groups – and how this affects their mental health later in life.

It emerged that the ages of 15 to 17 years old were the most formative years during which exercise can lead to life-long benefits – with each year that a teenager continues to exercise regularly, contributing to a higher State of Mind score in adulthood.

However, of the 22 countries ranked on their “State of Mind” scores, the UK came in 17th, with a score of 61 out of 100 – falling below the global average of 65 out of 100.

The UK was also below average when it came to the number of people who claim to exercise regularly (55 percent, compared to the global average of 56 percent).

And Brits who exercised often between the ages of 15-17 years old, were given an average score of 62 out of 100 by the time they reached adulthood – compared to 58 out of 100, for those who did not keep active during those years.

In fact, the survey of 26,000 people across the world found that those who dropped out of exercise before the age of 15 showed lower activity levels and mental health later in life. One in 10 were less confident and calm, while 11 percent were less focused.

The ASICS 2024 State of Mind study also uncovered an exercise generation gap, with younger people becoming increasingly less active compared to generations before them.

But the report also suggests it’s not too late to start – with millennial and Gen Z women having most to gain from exercising more, as their mental wellbeing is most largely impacted by regular exercise.

Professor Brendon Stubbs, a leading researcher in exercise and mental health from King’s College London, who led the study, said: “It is worrying to see this decline in activity levels from younger respondents, at such a critical age – particularly as the study uncovered an association with lower wellbeing in adulthood.

“Gen Zs across the world are already exhibiting the lowest State of Mind scores in comparison to the Silent Generation – so this could be hugely impactful for future mental wellbeing across the world.”

The study assessed respondents on their “State of Mind” score, giving different countries a rank out of 100. Globally, those who stopped exercising before the age of 15 display an average State of Mind score 15 percent lower than the global average.

And a decline in physical activity at 16-17 – as well as before the age of 22 – reduced their average scores by 13 percent, and six percent, respectively.

The study also uncovered an exercise generation gap, with younger generations being increasingly less active, impacting their score.

In the UK, 55 percent of the Silent Generation (aged 78+) were active daily in their early childhood – compared to 35 percent of millennials (aged 28-42), and just 21 percent of Gen Z (aged 18-27).

This shows a concerning trend of younger generations being less active, and dropping out of physical activity earlier than the ones that came before them.

Gary Raucher, from ASICS, said: “Sport and exercise benefit not only the body, but also the mind. It’s why we’re called ASICS – “Anima Sana in Corpore Sano”, or “Sound Mind in a Sound Body”.

“The results of our second global State of Mind Study show how important it is that young people stay active, and the impact this can have on their minds for years to come. We’re committed to supporting and inspiring people to move for positive mental wellbeing throughout their lifetime.”

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