CYPRIOTS COULD do a lot more to stay in shape, but in this regard they fare no worse than most of their European counterparts, a poll has shown.
The latest Eurobarometer survey on sport and physical activity has revealed high levels of inactivity in the EU, where 59 per cent of European Union citizens never or seldom exercise or play sport, while 41 per cent do so at least once a week.
In Cyprus, 64 per cent of respondents said they seldom or never exercise or play sport. Just 11 per cent exercise regularly, and 25 per cent with some regularity. A gender breakdown showed women to be the worst offenders, with 72 per cent exercising very little to not at all, compared to 57 per cent for men.
The survey was carried out for the European Commission by the TNS Opinion & Social network in the 28 Member States between November 23 and December 2, 2013. Nearly 28,000 respondents from different social and population groups took part in the poll. In Cyprus, 500 face-to-face interviews were carried out.
The research also found that 52 per cent of Cypriots seldom or never engage in other physical activity, such as cycling from one place to another, dancing, or gardening.
About a third who do work out do so in a park or outdoors, while 36 per cent exercise at home. And 84 per cent of respondents here said they were not a member of any sports club or health and fitness centre, compared to 74 per cent in the EU-28.
Northern Europe was found to be more physically active than the South and East. 70 per cent of respondents in Sweden said they exercise or play sport at least once a week, just ahead of Denmark (68 per cent) and Finland (66 per cent), followed by the Netherlands (58 per cent) and Luxembourg (54 per cent). At the other end of the scale, 78 per cent never do so in Bulgaria, followed by Malta (75 per cent), Portugal (64 per cent), Romania (60 per cent) and Italy (60 per cent).
Commenting on the findings, Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner responsible for sport, said:
“The results of the Eurobarometer confirm the need for measures to encourage more people to make sport and physical activity a part of their daily lives. This is crucial, not only in terms of an individual’s health, wellbeing and integration, but also because of the significant economic costs resulting from physical inactivity.”
Vassiliou said the Commission would be implementing the recently adopted Council Recommendation on health-enhancing physical activity and move ahead with plans for a European Week of Sport.
The survey shows that EU-wide local authorities in particular could do more to encourage citizens to be physically active. While 74 per cent of respondents believe that local sport clubs and other providers provide sufficient opportunities for this, 39 per cent think their local authorities are not doing enough.