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Three quarters of of Brits join a health club to manage their mental wellbeing

By Kath Hudson    12 Jan 2024
More than a third of people join a health club to make friends / Shutterstock/Yuri A
New research by Savanta for UK Active has found that 78 per cent of people join a health club because it helps them manage their mental health
55 per cent join to support a short- or long-term health condition
UK Active CEO, Huw Edwards, says the sector is the solution to many of the nation’s public health challenges
Edwards is calling on the Government to invest more in physical activity

People in the UK are getting the message that health clubs can support and protect their health and now the government needs to get on board by delivering greater support for the sector, says UK Active CEO, Huw Edwards.

The trade body's recent Consumer Engagement Poll of more than 2,000 UK adults – conducted by Savanta – found people are realising the benefits of exercise when it comes to improving their health, with 55 per cent saying they joined a health club to manage a short- or long-term health condition.

Improving mental health and wellbeing – including managing anxiety and/or depression – was shown to be a strong influencing factor in taking out a membership, with 78 per cent of respondents citing this as a reason, while 66 per cent said workouts improves their sleep.

Forty three per cent said going to the gym helps them to make new friends and 75 per cent that it boosts their overall confidence.

With January being the busiest month of the year for health clubs, Edwards says the research proves motivations to join a health club go deeper than simply being a new year resolution and is calling on the government to do more to support incentivisation and accessibility for people from all communities so they can benefit from physical activity.

With 7.71 million people currently awaiting treatment from the NHS and the loss of more than 35.2 million working days in 2022-23, due to self-reported work-related ill health or injury, Britain’s poor health is costing the economy £43bn a year.

Edwards said: “Our research is a clear reminder that our facilities are not just locations to build physical fitness but are fundamental places for the population to prioritise their own health and wellbeing, as well as managing a range of short- and long-term health conditions.

“The green shoots of how we improve our poor public health lie in these instinctive public motivations. That’s why it’s so important that any current or future government makes the link to fitness and leisure facilities and businesses as a solution to many of the public health issues facing the nation today.”

The research, along with comments from Edwards, were published in the Guardian, securing a high profile for both UK Active and the sector.

You can read the report here.

Edwards has also called on the UK government to focus on health to drive economic growth as the UK enters election year, saying "There’s no growth without health: Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer must prioritise our physical activity in 2024."

Click here to read the full position statement.

Summing up

Savanta consumer insight

Why do people take out a health club membership?

Improves mental health and wellbeing78%

Improves overall confidence


Improves sleep66%

Helps management of a short- or long-term health condition


Helps in making new friends43%

UK Active  Consumer Engagement Poll  NHS  Savanta  Huw Edwards  mental health 
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