The Dutch are the most physically active nation, the Brazilians are the least

In this new study across 29 countries we take a look at how people around the world view sports, how they take part and what might prevent them from doing so

The author(s)
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight
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A new global Ipsos study reveals that people from the Netherlands are the most physically active of 29 nations. On average they report spending 12.8 hours a week (almost two hours per day) doing physical exercise or team sports, double the average of 6.1 across 29 markets. People from Germany and Romania are the next most active, carrying 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%), more than double the average across 29 countries (14%). Three in ten Brazilians (31%) and a quarter of Poles and Italians (both 26%) also report doing no exercise at all. Among those from the Netherlands just four per cent say they do no exercise at all in a week.

Most commonly practiced sports

The five most frequently practiced team sports and activities across the 29 markets in a normal week are fitness (20%), running (19%), cycling (13%), soccer (10%) and swimming (9%). However, the largest proportion 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 (61% and 59% respectively). Other Anglophone countries – Canada (56%) and Australia (55%) – are next most likely to agree, along with Japan (55%).
  • Swedes are the least likely to report playing now 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: 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 (51%), Peru (48%) and Russia (47%)
  • People in Turkey and Argentina are especially likely to cite a lack of money (33% and 30% respectively), followed by South Africans and Russians (25%)
  • Citizens of Saudi Arabia and South Africa are most likely to say weather that is too hot (or cold) is a barrier to participating in more sport (both 38%). Just seven per cent of Britons say the same.
  • Four in ten Japanese people say there are no barriers to their participation in sport and they simply do not want to participate (40%), 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%).

Technical note

  • 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 adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in 24 other markets between 25 June and 9 July 2021. 
  • Approximately 1,000 individuals participated on a country by country basis via the Ipsos Online Panel, with the exception of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea Sweden and Turkey, where each have a sample of around 500.
  • The samples in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, and United States can be taken as representative of these countries’ general adult population under the age of 75.
  • The samples in Brazil, China, Chile, Colombia, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Turkey are more urban, more educated, and/or more affluent than the general population. The survey results for these countries should be viewed as reflecting the views of the more “connected” segment of their population.
  • The data is weighted so that each country’s sample composition best reflects the demographic profile of the adult population according to the most recent census data. 
  • Where results do not sum to 100 or the ‘difference’ appears to be +/-1 more/less than the actual, this may be due to rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of don't know or not stated responses.
  • The precision of Ipsos online polls is calculated using a credibility interval with a poll of 1,000 accurate to +/- 3.5 percentage points and of 500 accurate to +/- 4.8 percentage points. For more information on Ipsos’s use of credibility intervals, please visit the Ipsos website.
  • The publication of these findings abides by local rules and regulations.
The author(s)
  • Michael Clemence Trends & Foresight

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