The average UK adult spends eight times as long watching on-demand television as they do exercising, according to research commissioned by not-for-profit health body ukactive ahead of National Fitness Day on September 26th.
The study of 2,076 UK adults by ComRes reveals that they spend an average of 12 hours watching on-demand TV such as Netflix, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime TV each week, compared with just one hour and 30 minutes a week of moderate physical activity, such as riding a bike, fast walking, playing tennis or hiking.
The boom in binge-watching boxsets in bed or on the couch means that leisure time is increasingly spent sitting or lying in front of a screen rather than moving.
According to the study, the average UK adult also spends around 12 hours a week using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and 17 hours a week using a smartphone or tablet in total – roughly 11 times longer than the average time spent exercising.
The research sheds light on the sedentary behaviours behind the growing physical inactivity crisis, which causes 37,000 premature deaths in the UK each year and costs the economy an estimated £20 billion.
Half (49 per cent) of UK adults say they exercise when they are feeling stressed or concerned, while 43 per cent say they eat or snack and 41 per cent say they use their TV, phone, computer or tablet to unwind. For those that exercise when feeling stressed, the most common reason is because it clears their head (71 per cent), as well as finding it relaxing (55 per cent) and enjoying being outdoors (50 per cent).
“Advances in technology and entertainment have captured our imaginations but as we slip into box-set binges, so many people are losing the balance and enjoyment that physical activity brings to our lives,” noted Steven Ward, CEO of ukactive – the not-for-profit health body behind National Fitness Day. “National Fitness Day celebrates the fun of physical activity, putting smiles on millions of faces and inspiring everyone to be more active every day of the year. The trick to getting more exercise is finding what motivates you to be active – it could be about fun, fitness or friends, just remember to get up and get moving.”
“Physical inactivity is a silent killer and, sadly, many people today live totally sedentary lives in a world dominated by the car, the desk job, the television and the computer. It is an environmental problem but individuals can take action because we now know that even 10 minutes of brisk walking is beneficial,” advised Professor Sir Muir Gray CBE, Chief Knowledge Officer for the NHS.