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Walking Number One in Britain - But Declining

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Updated June 29, 2004

Walking is the number one sports activity in Britain, according to the Office of National Statistics survey for 2002/2003 of those aged 16 and over. But the survey shows a decline in walking from the high reached in 1996.

The British Are Walking

How many are walking? The survey said 36% of men and 34% of women reported walking two miles or more as an activity in the past four weeks. This was double the rate reporting any other activity. For men, cycling, swimming and soccer ranged from 10-15%. For women fitness workouts/yoga and swimming ranged from 15-16%. This trend is similar to that seen in the US, with walking far outstripping any other sport or physical activity.

Declining Rates for Walking

It is disturbing that the walking percentage during the past 4 weeks was 45% in 1996 but declined to 35% in 2002. Other activities declined as well, but not by such a large percentage.

Age, Location, and Income Differences

Age: More walkers were in the middle-age category. 29% of teens 16-19 reported walking, while 40% of those aged 40-59 reported walking.

Employment: Those who were employed by large employers or who were in the high managerial group were almost twice as likely to walk (46%) as those in the "routine" employment group (25%) and those who were unemployed (22%).

Location: Scots are walking - 43% compared to 34-35% for England and Wales. Ethnic Group: The lowest participation was reported by Pakastani/Bangladeshi, Indian, Black Caribbean and Black African respondants.

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