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Representation in Malta
News article19 September 2022Representation in Malta5 min read

New Eurobarometer on sport and physical activity shows that 49% of Europeans exercise


Today, the European Commission publishes the fifth Eurobarometer dedicated to sport and physical activity. The survey shows that 38% of Europeans play sport or exercise at least once a week, while 17% exercise less than once a week. Up to 45% of Europeans currently never exercise or partake in physical activity. While this is a stabilisation compared to the 2017 Eurobarometer, the continued promotion for sport and physical activity clearly remains much needed. The survey also reveals that during COVID-19 pandemic, half of Europeans reduced their activity levels or even stopped altogether.

Vice-President for Promoting the European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said: “Sport alone will not solve all of our problems, but besides the very obvious benefits for our health, it also has a unique potential to connect us with each other, and to give us the feeling that we belong to a community. Sport has an important role to play in building cohesive societies, one of the biggest challenges Europe is facing today. We have already reached out to millions through our initiatives, but today's Eurobarometer shows us that we must continue to find new ways to motivate Europeans to get active.”

Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, said: "The findings we are presenting today show that it is vitally important to continue and step up our efforts to promote physical activity, healthy lifestyles and universal values, from gender equality to inclusiveness, through sport. We have already launched some valuable initiatives to encourage people to be more active, and the European Week of Sport, which will start at the end of this week with events and actions at every corner of Europe, is one of them! Working with Member States and partners from the European sport family, from athletes to coaches and grassroot clubs, and particularly for young people in this European Year of Youth, we will yet again use the Week to encourage all Europeans to engage in physical activity."

Respondents aged 15-24 years are the most likely to exercise or play sport with some regularity (54%). This proportion decreases with age, down from 42% among 25-39 year-olds to 32% in the group aged 40-54 and 21% among those aged 55 and over. Overall, the Eurobarometer shows that respondents who engage regularly in physical activity for recreational or non-sport-related reasons do not form a majority in any EU Member State.

According to the respondents, the main barrier to be active is a lack of time followed by a lack of motivation, or simply no interest in sport. In response, the Commission's HealthyLifeStyle4All campaign will continue to raise awareness about the importance of an active healthy lifestyle across generations and social groups.

The survey informs that the main reason to be active is to improve one's health, followed by the wish to increase fitness levels and find ways to relax. The Commission is promoting the benefits of sport for physical and mental wellbeing every year during the European Week of Sport. Half of the respondents also expressed their desire to be active in the outdoors, which is supported by the Commission's efforts towards greener and more sustainable sport and physical activity. In a new development, possibly reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic, approximately one third prefers to practice sport at home.

Finally, the importance of the European Commission's efforts to improve gender equality in sport are strongly supported by the outcome of the Eurobarometer, since the gender gap between those who regularly exercise remains in favour of men. In this context, it is encouraging to learn that a majority of respondents in 25 EU Member States state that they evenly like to follow male and female sport competitions in the media.


Special Eurobarometer Survey

The Commission launches a Special Eurobarometer on sport on a regular basis - the last ones in 2013 and 2017 - to monitor trends in participation in sport and physical activity, including levels of physical activity in the EU-27 and information about the contexts in which people exercise.

This Special Eurobarometer on sport and physical activity is based on answers to about 20 questions from 26 580 Europeans from all 27 Member States. It illustrates trends regarding participation levels, obstacles and preferences to practice sport as a basis for future policies. The results will feed the Commission's actions to promote sport, health-enhancing physical activity and a healthy lifestyle overall in Europe.

The EU Work Plan for Sport (2021-2024), adopted by the Council, have stressed the importance of data regarding sport and participation levels in the EU. The availability of new Eurobarometer findings on trends in physical activity and participation in sport will support EU level activities on the operational and the policy side of sport. The survey also builds on the previous Eurobarometer surveys allowing for continued comparison and providing a good basis for the further development of sport policy at the EU level in close collaboration with Member States.

The European Week of Sport

The European Week of Sport is an initiative of the European Commission to promote sport and physical activity across Europe, including the Western Balkans and countries from the Eastern Partnership. Sport and physical activity contribute substantially to the health and wellbeing of European citizens, however, the level of physical activity in Europe is currently stagnating and even declining in some countries. The European Week of Sport is a joint response to this challenge as well as a call for action to tackle the phenomenon of inactivity by encouraging Europeans of all ages to embrace a healthy and active lifestyle. It is part of the #BeActive campaign, which was officially launched on 23 June, the International Olympic Day. The 2022 #BeActive campaign will put the spotlight on relatable and inspiring people, with a focus on the 3 pillars: Youth, Inclusion & Equality and Healthy Lifestyle.


The HealthyLifestyle4All initiative was launched in September 2021 as a 2-year campaign to link sport and active lifestyles with health, food and other policies. It aims to showcase the Commission's commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles for all, across generations and social groups, noting that everyone can benefit from activities that improve health and well-being. The initiative is open to the sport movement, public authorities and civil society organisations who can join the initiative with their own commitments, published on an online Pledge Board.

For More Information

Eurobarometer 525 – Sport and Physical Activity

European Week of Sport | Sport (

The HealthyLifestyle4All Initiative | Sport (


Publication date
19 September 2022
Representation in Malta