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EU: distribution of exercise and sport participation in 2017, by age group and gender

This statistic displays the results of a survey on the distribution of frequencies of how often people exercise or play sport in the European Union (EU) in 2017, characterised by both age group and gender. The survey was conducted via face-to-face interviews and gathered data from 28,031 respondents across Europe, in December 2017. The frequency of exercise or sport participation tends to decrease with age. A majority of 15-24 year-olds exercise or play sport regularly or with some regularity. This falls to 46 percent in the 25-39 year olds, 39 percent for 40-54 year-olds and 30 percent for those aged 55 or over. In addition, the proportion that never exercises or plays sport also increases with age, from 24 percent among 15-24 year olds, to 61 percent of those aged 55 or over.

Reasons for participation

The most frequently offered reason for participating in physical activity and sport include are to improve health and to improve fitness. Other popular reasons include relaxing, having fun and improving physical performance. Conversely the frequently offered reason for a lack of participation is a lack of time., followed by a lack motivation or interest.

Younger people do more sports

The positive correlation shown between the age of a respondent and the frequency with which they engage in exercise or sport could be related to these two frequently offered reasons preventing participation in physical activity. More information about sports in Europe can be found in the Dossier: Fitness industry in Europe.

Distribution of frequency of how often people exercise or play sport in the European Union (EU) in 2017, by age group and gender

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Release date

March 2018



Survey time period

December 2107

Number of respondents

28,031 respondents

Age group

15 years and older

Method of interview

Face-to-face interview

Supplementary notes

Exercise means any form of physical activity which one does in a sport context or sport-related setting, such as swimming, training in a fitness center or sport club, running in the park, etc.

Regularly: five times or more per week.
With some regularity: one to four times a week.
Seldom: three times a month or less often.

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Statistics on "Fitness industry in Europe "

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