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Swedes work out the most in all of Europe

Published: 25 Mar 2014 16:42 GMT+01:00

Seven out of ten Swedes reported hitting the gym or engaging in a bit of sport weekly, putting them high-up among their fellow Scandinavians who appear to work out much more than their southern neighbours - 78 percent of polled Bulgarians said they never exercise at all, with the Maltese not far behind at a 64 percent. 

Only 9 percent of Swedes said they never do exercise. 

Quite a few Swedes were dedicated enough to pay money to keep fit. 

"Respondents in Sweden (33 percent) and Denmark (25 percent) are the most likely to be members at a health or fitness centre," the report authors at the official EU statistics bureau summarized. "Generally speaking, citizens in the northern part of the EU are the most physically active."

Some of it appeared to come down to access to activities. European citizens were asked if they agreed with the statement that their neighbourhood offered facilities or clubs that offered sports and exercise opportunities.

Nine out of ten Swedes said they had many opportunities in their area, to be outdone only by the Dutch (95 percent) and the Danes (92 percent). 

Women, however, were less likely to feel that way, which prompted the Eurobarometer researchers to prod the European countries to encourage girls and women to get out more. 

"For instance, women (in particular in the younger age groups) are far less active than their male counterparts, and young women are more likely to feel that local authorities do not do enough for its citizens in relation to offering opportunities for physical activity," they wrote. 
 
"This suggests that women might need more encouragement and support to be more physically active."
 
The question of access also appeared to reveal a north-south divide in Europe. While the Danes, Dutch, and Swedes in vast majority felt access was good, only around half of Bulgarians and Romanians, and even fewer Slovaks and Greeks, agreed with the statement that they had good local work-out options.
 
When it came to being active as a volunteer in sports clubs and actives, the Swedes beat their neighbours by far. One in five say they volunteer - whether it be Zamboni duties at the ice rink or coaching volleyball juniors. The Dutch, Danes, and Irish were runners-up at 18, 18 and 15 percent respectively.

But when volunteering climbed over a six-hours-a-month threshold, the Swedes dropped off the top of the list. Forty-five percent of Dutch volunteers, 40 percent of the Brits and 39 percent of the Belgians put in proper hours when volunteering. 

 

Ann Törnkvist (ann.tornkvist@thelocal.com)

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