A Global View: A majority would like to practice more sports, but lack time

A new global Ipsos study conducted with the World Economic Forum explores attitudes to sports and finds that globally, most people would like to practice more sports but say they lack time to do so. This article presents the most essential insights.

Global views on exercise and team sports


A new study reveals that people from the Netherlands are the most physically active out of 29 nations. On average they report spending 12.8 hours a week (almost two hours per day) doing physical exercise or team sports. That is double the average of 6.1 hours across the 29 markets surveyed. People from Germany and Romania are the next most active as they carry out 11.1 and 11 hours of exercise per week respectively.

At the other end of the scale, Brazilians are the least physically active, spending three hours per week doing physical exercise on average (26 minutes per day). Four other countries report doing less than four hours of physical exercise on average per week: France (3.7), Chile (3.7), Italy (3.6) and Japan (3.3).

One-third of Japanese citizens report doing no exercise at all in an average week (34%). That is more than double the average of 14% across the 29 countries. Three in ten Brazilians (31%) and a quarter of Polish and Italians (both 26%) also report doing no exercise at all. Among those from the Netherlands, just 4% say they do no exercise at all in a week.

Most commonly practised sports

The five most frequently practised team sports and activities across the 29 markets in a normal week are:

  • fitness (20%)
  • running (19%)
  • cycling (13%)
  • soccer (10%)
  • swimming (9%)

However, the largest proportion of people say they do no team sport (38%).

  • Americans and Britons are the most likely to say they do no team sports, with six in ten of their populations saying this is the case. Other Anglophone countries - Canada and Australia - are next most likely to agree, along with Japan.
  • Swedes are the least likely to report playing no team sports in a normal week, with just 15% saying this is the case.

Barriers to further participation

Almost six in ten citizens across the 29 markets say they would like to play more sports than they currently do (58%). The top three nations where people are most likely to say they would like to play more sport than they currently do are all in Latin America – Peru (81%), Chile (79%) and Colombia (78%). Americans are least likely to say they would like to play more sports than they currently do (35%), while more than six in ten say they are happy with the amount of sport they currently play (62%).

The biggest obstacle to further participation across all counties is a lack of time as 37% say this is a barrier. The next biggest barriers are a lack of money (cited by 18%) and the weather being too hot or too cold (17%). Just over one in five say there are no barriers to their participation in sport (22%).

  • Lack of time is a particular issue in Saudi Arabia, Peru and Russia
  • People in Turkey and Argentina are especially likely to cite a lack of money. The same barrier is cited by many South Africans and Russians
  • Citizens of Saudi Arabia and South Africa are most likely to say the weather is too hot (or cold) as a barrier to participating in more sport (both 38%). Just 7% of Britons say the same.
  • 40% of Japanese people say there are no barriers to their participation in sport and they simply do not want to participate. That is almost double the global country average score of 22%. Those from the United States are second-most likely to say this (37%), followed by a third of Britons (33%) and Canadians (32%).


About the survey
These are the results of a 29-country survey conducted by Ipsos on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 21,503 people between 25 June and 9 July 2021.
The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.