Trends & Features

Regularly exercising Brits likely to feel healthier mentally

A less obvious finding from YouGov Profiles is that they are also more likely to report feeling mentally, emotionally, and socially healthy.

In this piece, the regular exercisers filter captures those who say they exercised at least once a week in the month the question was asked. Regular exercisers either played a sport, attended a workout session, or exercised at a gym or at home. In comparison are non-exercisers – those who said they “have not worked out in the last month”.

Half of the Brits who work out at least once a week consider themselves mentally healthy, compared to two in five of those who don’t. Similar differences are seen when it comes to their perception of their own emotional (42% vs 34%) and social health (41% vs 31%).

A similar positive effect on health perceptions is seen even among those who play a variety of different sports.

Looking at some of Britain’s most popular participation sports based on Profiles data, people who played any of those sports in the last 12 months are likelier to report feeling healthy in each category than the average Brit. But the benefits aren’t standard across the sports.

For instance, seven in ten runners/marathoners (70%) say they feel physically healthy as compared to under a half of those who say they bowled (46%) in the last 12 months. Those who played table tennis (53%) were most likely to say they feel socially healthy, while cricket players were among the least likely (40%). Even so, cricket players outmatched the overall British population (35%) by five percentage points.

Table tennis players, along with tennis ones, also come out on top when it comes to their perception of their mental health (59%). They are 16 percentage points likelier than the overall British population (43%) to say they feel mentally healthy.

Marketers of sports and exercise programmes often and rightly emphasise physical fitness benefits as a selling point, but perhaps more focus on the potential benefits of other aspects of health might draw in a different set of participants.

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