Third of people say gyms 'too expensive'

According to the YouGov survey, 30 per cent of people said the cost of gyms and leisure centres prevents them being more physically active.

The issue of expense seems to particularly affect younger people, with 42 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds mentioning financial cost as a reason for not being more physically active. This compares to 19 per cent in the oldest age group, the over-55s.

This is a concern because there is convincing evidence that regular physical activity reduces risk of cancer. This is why WCRF recommends that people are physically active for at least half an hour a day.

Dr Rachel Thompson, Deputy Head of Science at WCRF, said: “It is a concern that so many people feel that financial cost is stopping them being more physically active.

“Particularly in these economically difficult times, it is important for us to get the message across that being physically active does not have to mean signing up at expensive gyms or leisure centres. There are plenty of ways of being active that are either free or do not cost much.

“For example, people can take up brisk walking or running, or start playing a sport that they enjoy. Even hobbies such as dancing and gardening can count towards your daily total.

“There is convincing evidence that regular physical activity reduces your cancer risk. For example, scientists estimate that about 10,000 cases of breast and bowel cancer could be prevented every year in the UK if we all did regular moderate physical activity.

“But as well as highlighting the fact that physical activity is something we can all do regardless of our income, we also need to do more to highlight the benefits of it, including the effect it has on cancer risk.”

The survey of 2,196 found that 36 per cent said pressure on time because of work, family or home commitments prevented them being more physically active. This was the factor named by the largest number of people, with the figure for full-time workers standing at 47 per cent.

Pressure on time was also the biggest impediment to full-time students’ physical activity, with 43 per cent choosing this option, followed by financial cost (38 per cent). Over a fifth of students (22 per cent) said they preferred to spend their time socialising, compared to a nationwide average of six per cent.

The British weather was also mentioned as a factor, with 18 per cent of Britons saying bad weather prevented them from being more active outside. But only 12 per cent cited not being able to walk or cycle to work as a factor.

One in five people (20 per cent) said they could not be bothered. But the figure rose to almost a third (32 per cent) for 18 to 24-year-olds.

For further information, including 15-minute fitness slots and other tips on being active visit


For more information contact Andy Wilks on 020 7343 4273.

Notes to editors:

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2196 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd – 24th November 2010. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
  • As well as reducing risk of cancer in its own right, regular physical activity also helps maintain a healthy weight, which is one of the most important things people can do for cancer prevention.

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About WCRF

World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) raises awareness that cancer is largely preventable and helps people make choices to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

This includes research into how cancer risk is related to diet, physical activity, and weight management, and education programmes that highlight the fact that about a third of cancers could be prevented through changes to lifestyle. For more information on the charity’s work, visit

The WCRF report, called Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective, was launched in November 2007 and is the most comprehensive report ever published on the link between cancer and lifestyle. For more information, visit