Trends - Physical Activity

Attitudes to and participation in exercise and sport 1987-2003

This report is to be updated and is currently not available for sale.

This report in the series showing trends in young people's health related behaviour. The report is ideal for stimulating discussion and provides factual information and 40 charts that are relevant to those concerned with the healthy development of young people. Written using data derived from the Health Related Behaviour Questionnaire surveys, the report uses a sample of 329,408 young people between the ages of 10 and 15 from across the UK.

This report shows trends from 1987-2003 in data from young people that are involved in physical activities (outside of school) on a weekly basis.

The activities include:

* cycling, swimming, jogging, dancing
* soccer, netball, rugby, basketball
* gymnastics, tennis, badminton, weight-training
* cricket, skateboarding, fishing, and pub/club games

There are also trends data from:

* those who walk and cycle to school
* young people who tell us about how much they enjoy physical activity
* those who report no physical activities
* young people telling us how fit think they are
* those showing trends in exercising vigorously
* young people spending their own money on sports centres and on sports equipment


When looking over the figures since 1987, we find that young people in recent years are more likely to... report exercising vigorously three times or more 'in the last week' (1995-2003) play soccer and basketball in their own time or school clubs go jogging and dancing (females only) play on a skateboard (males only) (1991-2003) take part in pub/club sports (1991-2003) think they are unfit We also find that young people in recent years are less likely to... go cycling and go fishing play tennis, badminton and rugby in their own time or school clubs spend their own money on sports centre or sports equipment (1991-2003) walk or cycle to school (1995-2003) It is also noted that there has been little change in those that report. being involved in gymnastics, swimming, hockey, weight-training, netball, and cricket in their own time or school clubs any level of enjoyment of physical activity from "Not at all" to "A lot" (1995-2003) exercising vigorously twice 'in the last week' (1995-2003) .when compared with figures from previous years.


ORDER publications

  1. SHEU is an independent research, survey and publishing company and the 'Young People into ...' series of reports are based on the work of one of its divisions - The Schools Health Education Unit. The Unit provides reliable baseline data for local needs assessment to inform plans in health, education and care.
  2. The accumulated databank from the hundreds of school surveys we support each year, involving tens of thousands of young people, is a valuable resource of information and provides many opportunities for research. But we caution against simple reporting and interpretation of our figures as being from 'a national survey'.
  3. In 2014 we compared the profile of the schools in our data sets with what we can see in the country as a whole (see link), and we were pleasantly surprised by the similarity.  This confirms what we concluded in 2004 through a similar study: that the SHEU data sets are reasonably well-matched to the national population of schools.