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26 March, 2014

The new Eurobarometer report has shown that 74% of EU citizens are not members of any type of club which includes sport or exercise in its activities. When looking at the figures presented in comparison to the Eurobarometer report from 2009, we can see that this figure has risen from 67% in 2009 to 74% in 2013.
However, in 2009, 12% of people were members of a sport club – this has remained at 12% for 2013. The only club membership to show any level of growth has been that of health or fitness centres. They have experienced an increase in membership, from 9% of EU citizens in 2009 to 11% in 2013. The question “where do you engage in physical activity” produced for health or fitness centres 11% in 2009 and in the latest Barometer this had increased to 15%.
The highest proportions of memberships of health or fitness clubs can be seen in Sweden (33%) and Denmark (25%) with the lowest levels being visible in Lithuania (1%), Bulgaria (2%) and Latvia (3%). In comparison with sports clubs, it can be seen that their highest membership levels lie in the Netherlands (27%), Denmark (25%) and Germany (24%) while the lowest membership levels for sports clubs are in Romania (1%), Bulgaria (2%) and Poland (3%). These could be taken to highlight that the Eastern member states in the EU constitute an underdeveloped market for the health and fitness sector.
What motivates individuals to be physically active?
The main motivating factors have been found to be to become more healthy (62%), to improve fitness (40%), to relax (36%) and for enjoyment (30%). Of the 62% who stated that they undertake physical activity to improve their health, 24% also mentioned that they saw physical activity as a component of weight control. Overall, these responses are very similar to those from the 2009 Eurobarometer report.
What is preventing people from becoming active in sport or physical activity?
76% of EU citizens totally agree or tend to agree that their local area provides them with enough opportunities to be physically active. The break down in this statistic is that 39% totally agree with this statement while a further 37% tend to agree. However, 13% of people tend to disagree with this statement and 7% totally disagree. This shows that one-fifth of EU citizens do not believe that they are provided with ample opportunities to be active within their local community.
Respondents identified high levels of opportunities to be physically active or involved in sport in the Netherlands (95%), Denmark (92%), Sweden (90%), France (89%) and Germany (also 89%). The highest levels of disagreement with the above statement were found in Bulgaria (53%), Romania (47%), Slovakia (39%) and Greece (37%).
While it is evident that the lowest levels of involvement in physical activity are in countries in the East of the European Union, this information highlights that, in some Eastern countries, there are also lower levels of opportunities to become involved in sport or physical activity. Could this be seen as a call for the health and fitness sector to focus on becoming more prevalent in these markets?
When asked about whether they felt many opportunities to be physically active were provided by local sports clubs or other providers, 36% of respondents totally agreed and 38% had a tendency to agree while 12% tended to disagree and 7% disagreed totally. The country based results largely mirror the responses found on the previous questions. The highest levels of agreement were in the Netherlands (94%), Denmark (91%), France (88%) and Germany (also 88%). Highest levels of disagreement were found in Bulgaria (50%), Romania (50%), Slovakia (44%) and Greece (41%).

Concluding remark.
The Euro barometer report from 2009 found that 60% of EU citizens never engaged in sport or physical activity – the new report based on research carried out in 2013 has found that this level is at 59%. In 2009, the level of those who do not engage with sport or physical activity was defined as being “unacceptably high”, it is evident that this is still the case today. In fact, a comparison between the two reports shows that the level of those who never participate in sport or physical activity has actually risen from 39% to 42%.
One large difference was found between the engagement levels of women in comparison to men. Women seem to be less active than men, especially younger women, therefore, it may be necessary to try and encourage participation with women and define them as their own target group in this regard.
A very high level of physically activity exists among those over the age of 55 with 71% of women over 55 being physically inactive and 70% of men being physically inactive.
The Eurobarometer report has found that a distinction exists between member states in the North of the EU and the member states in the Southern region of the EU. The most active member states are generally found in the Northern region while the less active are generally found in the Southern region.
Further details and results will be announced at the European Health and Fitness Forum (EHFF) in Cologne on 2nd April by Mr Yves Le Lostecque, Head of the Sport Unit of the EU Commission, together with latest industry statistics and information from Deloitte. A summary of the EHFF will be released by EHFA next week.
Further information from:

About the European Health & Fitness Association
The European Health & Fitness Association, with its origins in 1996 as a not-for-profit organisation, represents the interests of the European health & fitness sector at the EU level.  Its objective is ‘More People, More Active, More Often’.  EHFA is also a standards setting body and promotes best practices in instruction and training to help battle the inactivity and obesity challenges spreading across Europe.  EHFA represents approximately 10,000 fitness facilities across Europe, as well as trade associations, suppliers, training providers, and individuals.
For further information visit us at

or contact;
Otilia Vlasov
EHFA Communications Officer

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