Physical activity

  • 67% of men and 55% of women aged 16 and over do the recommended amount of physical activity. In both sexes, the proportion who met the guidelines generally decreased with age.
  • The proportion meeting guidelines for aerobic activity increased with household income. 76% of men and 63% of women with the highest income met the new guidelines, falling to 55% of men and 47% of women with the lowest income.
  • Men spent more time than women in activities such as heavy manual, gardening and DIY activities and sports and exercise. Women spent more time in heavy housework.
  • Both sexes spent similar amounts of time walking. 

Muscle strengthening activities

  • 34% of men and 24% of women met UK guidelines on muscle strengthening activities.

Balance and co-ordination

Guidelines recommend that older adults at risk of falls should spend at least two days a week doing exercise that improves balance and co-ordination.

HSE does not identify those specifically at risk of a fall, but it does tell us the proportion of older participants who met these guidelines:

  • 31% of men and 22% of women who met guidelines for aerobic activity spent at least two days a week in exercises that improved their balance and co-ordination, compared with 9% of men and 10% of women with low levels of aerobic activity and 3% of men and 2% of women classed as inactive.

Being sedentary

  • Men were more likely than women to average six or more hours of total sedentary time on both weekdays, 31% and 29% respectively, and weekend days, 40% and 35% respectively.
  • The average sedentary time for men and women has decreased between 2008 and 2012.