Public starting to understand correlation between activity and health says HAFOS

The public are truly beginning to understand the importance of physical activity in improving or maintaining health, according to the Health and Fitness Omnibus Survey (HAFOS), which saw a leap from 25% of people citing this as their motive to exercise in 2011 to 55% of people in 2015.

The stats are part of a six-year review of HAFOS released by Leisure-net Solutions ahead of this year’s research, which will take place in March and focus on exercising outdoors.
The document, which benchmarks physical activity attitudes and behaviours from 2010 – 2015, consistently shows that the majority of people understand the importance of activity, but the shift in those taking exercise to improve or maintain their health has fluctuated significantly. Body tone and shape climbed, from 6% in 2010 to 18% in 2015, while maintaining or losing weight as an incentive rose as well, from 5% in 2010 to 15% in 2015.

Pleasingly, those self-reporting to undertake the recommended five sessions of activity a week spiked at over a third at 36% in 2015, whilst those admitting to none fell to just 14% – the highest and lowest figures in the survey’s six year history.

In line with this is people’s desire to be more active, which has fallen from 62% in 2010 to just 51% in 2015, perhaps reflecting the fact that those questioned believe they are already taking part in more exercise than previously.

The use of leisure centres has risen from 20% in 2010 to 34% in 2015, beaten only by 2013 when it hit an impressive 38%. “This could be due to the Olympics having taken place the year before,” said Mike Hill, Director of Leisure-net Solutions, the leading Customer Insight provider for the active leisure sector.

Those considering direct cost as a barrier to exercise has only risen 15% in six years, from 43 – 58%, whilst those claiming lower costs would be an encouragement factor fell from 63% in 2010 to 53% in 2015. However, sadly, for those that would like to do more exercise, accessible facilities was cited as an issue by 63%, up a startling 46% on 2010 (17%). And no appropriate classes or activities also saw a big spike, from 17% in 2010 to 56% in 2015.

Encouraging inactive people to take up physical activity in any form, from walking to sport, is a core part of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) current strategy to improve the health of the nation.

And so, combined with the continuing rise in popularity of outdoor exercise groups, such as British Military Fitness and Park Run, the 2016 HAFOS survey will be based on community perceptions of healthy exercise taken outdoors.

“Knowing what your wider community, along with non-users, really think of your services in these challenging and changing times is key,” said Hill. “To date more than 60 local authorities and trust have used our services to understand the attitudes and perceptions of people that choose not to use their fitness facilities.

“By understanding the needs and wants of both users and non-users, operators can improve their customer service, brand loyalty and ultimately impact their bottom line while helping to meet targets to increase participation.”

HAFOS provides a cost effective way to carry out research and also acts as a national benchmark for operators around trends in importance and encouragement factors. For more information or if you could like to take part in HAFOS 2016, contact Alison Dack on 01603 814233 or email

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For further press information contact:
Abigail Harris at Big Fish Public Relations
Tel: 07738 331019

Editor’s note:
Leisure-net Solutions is the leading provider of Customer Insight, Business Intelligence and Consultation services to the UK’s active leisure, fitness and cultural services industries. Leisure-net helps leading industry organisations, local authorities and Trusts, as well as private sector operators and suppliers, to understand their customers’ and clients’ needs and aspirations, and to deliver innovative service and health improvement initiatives.

Abigail Harris About the author
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