Older Londoners put the techno kids to shame

Over-65s exercise more than their children

London is the 10th most physically active area in the UK and its over-65s are leading the way.

Londoners are just below average in terms of times spent on exercise. At 4.6 times a month they dip slightly below the national average of 4.82.

These are the findings of a survey of more than 7,600 UK adults published in the Decathlon Activity Index 2019, which shows that 44% of over-65s take part in sports eight times or more in a typical month.

In fact, the next most active age group still fell within the older cohort – 41% of those 55-64 years old said they participate in sports or exercise eight times or more in a month. 

When over-65s were quizzed on the sports they take part in, swimming was the sport of choice, with 38% of the votes.

Inspirations to the over-65s – Cher, Sting and Goldie Hawn. All pictures from flickr

This was followed by exercising in the gym (29%) inspired by celebrities within this age group including Cher, Goldie Hawn and Sting. 

Interestingly, three of the top five types of exercise over-65s take part in are outdoors based, including cycling (21%), hiking or trekking (19%) and camping (11%).

Nicola Barnabo, fitness sports manager at Decathlon, said: “The research shows just how engaged this age group is with exercise and the sheer number of times they participate in exercise over a month speaks volumes about their desire to have a healthy, balanced lifestyle during retirement.

“This could be down to over-65s today being more aware of the health benefits of exercise or the fact that the younger generation are less active due to technology advances. It is also encouraging to see how many of this demographic are preferring to participate in sports or exercise outdoors.

“Not only does the sport offer a range of health benefits, but there have been studies done on the advantages of exercising outside from improving mood, reducing stress and restoring mental fatigue. 

“For those demographics who are less active more times in a month than others, it’s not necessarily a case of needing to spend time in the gym or training relentlessly, but, in fact, simple forms of exercise that we can easily incorporate into our daily lives can be picked up from going out on a stroll or playing a round of golf. We want to celebrate those who participate in sports they love, and we believe sports should be accessible for all, no matter what age.”

Top 10 sports over-65s take part in:

  1. Swimming – 38%
  2. Fitness/gym – 29%
  3. Cycling – 21%
  4. Hiking/trekking – 19%
  5. Camping – 11%
  6. Yoga/pilates – 10%
  7. Tennis – 9%
  8. Fishing – 6%
  9. Running – 6%
  10. Horse riding – 3%

The Decathlon Activity Index tracks rates of participation in sport and other physical activities across the year through a monthly, national survey.

Decathlon has 45 sports equipment, clothing and accessories stores in the UK (a dozen of which lie on or within the M25).

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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