UK Exercise Trends Market Report 2023
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“The relative affluence of the exercise market’s core participation base is insulating it against the worst of the cost-of-living crisis but the activity of less well-off groups has not yet…

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Discover the latest exercise trends in the UK with our market report. Mintel’s in-depth fitness industry market research provides you with insights into the latest health trends UK-wide, consumer attitudes towards fitness and exercise, and the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on the UK fitness and exercise industry. Find the information you need to stay ahead of your competitors and grow your business. Read on to learn more about our insights.

UK Exercise Market – Current Landscape

The fact that over half of frequent exercisers live in low-income households means the market faces a significant threat from the cost-of-living crisis. Inflation is also threatening the viability of many public exercise facilities, with spiralling energy costs piling more pressure on venues still suffering the after-effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling for investment in the face of local government spending cuts.

UK Consumer Attitudes Towards Exercise

UK adults’ exercise habits were effectively unchanged over the last year, with 71% participating once a week or more often. Participation rates continue to be led by low-impact exercise such as walking, the popularity of which reflects its accessibility and ease of participation. 

  • Free venues such as the outdoor and the home remain the most popular places to work out.
  • 65% of exercising adults participated in low-impact exercises in the past 12 months.
  • 54% of consumers think that it’s most important that a leisure activity improves your mental health. Highlighting the growing segmentation of motivations to exercise.

Fitness Trends UK – Opportunities for Market Growth

Opportunities for growth are being led by people’s increasing prioritisation of their physical and mental health, particularly in middle and older age. The majority of consumers recognise taking regular exercise as a key element of a healthy lifestyle. However, significantly more cite good diet as a key factor. To maximise its appeal, physical activity may benefit from being promoted as complementary to other healthy habits rather than a standalone solution for better living. 

Read on to discover more about our UK Exercise Trends Market Report, take a look at our UK Attitudes towards Sports Nutrition Market Report, or take a look at our extensive health and fitness market research.

Quickly Understand

  • The impact of the cost-of-living crisis on exercise habits.
  • The effect of changes in attitudes towards health and activity following the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Implications for exercise provision of long-term changes in the UK population structure.
  • Most common patterns of exercise.
  • Variations in exercise preferences and motivations.
  • Perceptions of the role of exercise in healthy lifestyles.

Expert Analysis from a Specialist in the Leisure Sector

This report, written by David Walmsley, a leading senior analyst in the fitness and leisure industry, delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current exercise trends in the UK market and add expert context to the numbers.

The relative affluence of the exercise market’s core participation base is insulating it against the worst of the cost-of-living crisis but the activity of less well-off groups has not yet recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic and is now threatened again by rising costs and falling public facility provision.

David Walmsley - Research Analyst


David Walmsley
Senior Leisure Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • Key issues covered in this Report
    • Products covered in this Report
  2. Executive Summary

    • The five-year outlook for exercise
      • Figure 1: Exercise outlook, 2023-27
    • The market
    • Living-cost crisis threatens to widen activity divide
    • Public facilities take triple hit
      • Figure 2: Public leisure centre and swimming pool numbers, 2013-22
    • Health consciousness broadens exercise appeal
      • Figure 3: Most popular leisure activity characteristics, 2022
    • Exercise technologies key to future growth
    • Companies and brands
    • More green space creates new exercise opportunities
    • Points make prizes in healthy living pilot
    • The consumer
    • Most people get regular exercise
      • Figure 4: Frequency of exercising, 2022 and 2023
    • Low-impact exercise sets high bar for participation
      • Figure 5: Types of exercise done, 2022 and 2023
    • Exercise is great outdoors for most
      • Figure 6: Locations for exercise, 2022 and 2023
    • Middle-aged get active for the good of their health
      • Figure 7: Motivations for exercise, 2022 and 2023
    • Committed exercisers are best informed
      • Figure 8: Most popular sources of exercise information and advice, 2023
    • Diet beats exercise at the heart of healthy living
      • Figure 9: Most important contributors* to a healthy lifestyle, 2023
  3. Issues and Insights

    • Brands can help keep people active in living-cost crisis
    • Exercise must be a team player in healthy living game
  4. Market Drivers

    • Cost-of-living crisis leaves least well-off most at risk
      • Figure 10: Financial situation, 2021-23
    • Austerity, pandemic and energy crisis hit facility provision
      • Figure 11: Leisure centre and swimming pool numbers, 2013-22
    • New health consciousness boosts exercise appeal
      • Figure 12: Most popular leisure activity characteristics, 2022
    • Working out at home grows with working from home
      • Figure 13: Work location, 2021 and 2023
    • Growing older population needs new activity approaches
      • Figure 14: Projected age structure of the UK 15+ population, 2026
    • Technology making exercise more accessible – and more fun
      • Figure 15: Personal ownership of fitness bands/sports watches, by age, 2022
  5. Launch Activity and Innovation

    • The new (green) space race
    • Healthy behaviours earn rewards
    • Big Sister keeps girls active through puberty
    • GPs prescribe exercise for physical and mental health
    • Bike desk peddles home workers’ exercise solution
  6. Frequency of Exercise

    • Most people are regularly active
      • Figure 16: Frequency of exercising, 2022 and 2023
    • Financial strength supports physical fitness
      • Figure 17: Frequency of exercising, by household income, 2023
  7. Types of Exercise

    • High profile for low impact
      • Figure 18: Types of exercise done, 2022 and 2023
    • Will older walkers widen their repertoires?
      • Figure 19: Past-year participation in low-impact exercise, by age, 2023
  8. Exercise Locations

    • Free facilities prove most popular
      • Figure 20: Locations for exercise, 2022 and 2023
    • Gyms need a more flexible focus to get exercisers out of the home
      • Figure 21: Participation in flexibility workouts, by location, 2023
  9. Motivations for Exercise

    • Health concerns lead the pack
      • Figure 22: Motivations for exercise, 2022 and 2023
    • Mind matters in middle age
      • Figure 23: Mental-health-related motivations for exercise, by age, 2023
  10. Sources of Exercise Advice

    • Most committed are best informed
      • Figure 24: Most popular sources of exercise information and advice, 2023
    • First-hand sources are most trusted
      • Figure 25: Most common means of accessing exercise information and advice, 2023
  11. Exercise and Healthy Living

    • Diet, activity and sleep are key to wellbeing
      • Figure 26: Most important contributors* to a healthy lifestyle, 2023
    • Promotional strategy should play on different priorities
      • Figure 27: Most important contributors* to a healthy lifestyle, by motivation for exercise, 2023
  12. Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

    • Abbreviations
    • Consumer research methodology

About the report

This market report provides in-depth analysis and insight supported by a range of data. At the same time, introductory and top-level content is provided to give you an overview of the issues covered.


Mintel provides a range of market information, frequently through the category level, including market size and forecasting, complete with market drivers that illustrate the forces that shape a category or market.


Mintel’s proprietary consumer research provides our analysts with the attitudinal and behavioral data used to provide valuable insight to topical issues.


Mintel provides overviews of the top brands and manufacturers, and uses consumer research to explore attitudes and reactions to brands, as well as insight into what will resonate with consumers.


Market reports provide appendices of data to support the research and insight produced. Our databooks* are easily manipulated and downloadable to support your research needs and covers factors from consumer attitudes to market forecasts.

*databooks not available with UK B2B Industry reports.

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