Exercise may now be more about mental health benefits than getting fit.
A survey of over 2,200 people in the UK asked what their main motivation was for staying physically active.
More than half (54 percent) said it was to help their mental health, as exercise is known to release “feel-good” hormones called endorphins.
In comparison, only 49 percent of people said their main motivation was the desire to get fit.
The survey, commissioned by fitness industry charity ukactive, found that three quarters of people are unaware of the recommended level of exercise they should be undertaking.
The UK’s chief medical officer’s physical activity guidelines say adults should do 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, each week.
More than half of Britons surveyed (54 per cent) said they exercised to improve their mental health, and physical activity is known to release “feel-good” hormones called endorphins.
But 75 percent of people surveyed thought the recommended amount of moderate exercise is much less.
Nearly 40 percent think 90 minutes a week of moderate-intensity physical activity is enough, according to the survey released today (WED) on National Fitness Day.
More positively, the survey conducted by Savanta found that people are aware of the benefits of exercise, with 86 per cent agreeing that staying physically active can help prevent various illnesses and injuries.
As the NHS faces a record waiting list of 7.7 million people, almost a quarter of respondents said they were currently waiting for NHS treatment, among whom seven per cent had a current gym membership.
Free National Fitness Day activities are taking place in gyms, leisure centres, sports clubs, schools and workplaces across the UK, as well as online. Huw Edwards, chief executive of ukactive, said: “More and more people are recognizing the incredible mental benefits of being active in their daily lives, not just the physical rewards.
“These findings show the great opportunity to alleviate our nation’s physical and mental health crisis if we can raise awareness about the importance of physical activity along with better nutrition and ensure everyone has the opportunity to be active.”
Sports Minister Stuart Andrew said: “Sport and physical activity are hugely beneficial to our physical and mental health, which is why we aim to get 3.5 million more people active by 2030.
“We are determined to increase participation, and that starts with 150 minutes of exercise a week for adults and 60 minutes a day for young people.”