An active nation: One third of us exercise every day


Published  18 May 2020
   6 min read

We are an active nation. Such were the findings from the Royal London Survey which reveals that 68% of people in Ireland exercise at least every couple of days, if not more. The survey, which was carried out by independent research experts iReach prior to the Covid-19 restrictions on behalf of leading protection specialist Royal London, asked over 1,000 adults nationwide if they exercised regularly and if so, how often.

Highlights from the survey include:

  • 33% of people exercise daily – slightly more men (35%) than women (31%) do so.
  • 8% say they never/almost never exercise.
  • Those aged 55 and over are most likely to exercise every day (38%) – people between 25 and 44 are least likely (29%).
  • People in Dublin are most active – 73% say they exercise at least every couple of days, if not every day.


Colette Houton, Underwriting and Claims Lead at Royal London, spoke of the findings,

“A report by the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland* found that 30 minutes of moderate activity five times a week can have health benefits and that active people can have a 30% reduction in the risk of developing diseases that reduce quality of life or indeed life expectancy, compared with those who are least active. Studies** also show that regular exercise, such as brisk walking, is associated with significantly lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. The fact that 68% of respondents undertake moderate physical exercise several times a week, with one third taking at least 30 minutes exercise every day is very positive. And perhaps this figure will grow in the wake of our current Covid-19 crisis. With the nation still under restrictions due to Covid-19, exercise appears to have become an important pillar in people’s efforts to maintain their physical and mental wellbeing and to keep up a regular routine while staying at home.

“With a significant number of people currently working from home, it has meant that over the last few weeks those who have commuted to work by car or public transport have not had to do so. Even those who usually walked or cycled to and from work might now find themselves with more time in their day to exercise. The one thing that can be noticed since the introduction of the ‘’stay at home’’ measures is the number of people all over the country donning their trainers and taking to the roads for regular exercise. Seasoned runners and walkers might find themselves doing a little more, while others, who in the past may not have had the time or the inclination to exercise, might now be enjoying the benefits of even a short walk on their physical and mental health”.


Age Effects
The Royal London survey found that those aged 55 and over are the most likely group to take exercise every day, at 38%. Lower levels of physical activity were reported among younger age cohorts, with 29% of people between 25 and 44 years being likely to exercise every day. A further 23% of those between 45 and 54 years said they only exercise a few times a month, if at all. Statistics from the World Health Organisation*** reveal that around 23% of adults are not active enough, with data from high-income countries showing 26% of men and 35% of women to be insufficiently physically active.

Ms Houton concluded,
“The HSE**** recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 64 years should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week – that’s 150 minutes minimum per week. Time could be an important factor here as to why people in some age groups may not be taking sufficient exercise – they may be more likely to have young families, work long hours or a have a long commute and simply may not have the time to give to a regular exercise routine.”

“Regular exercise is associated with many health benefits such as a lower risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Maintaining general good health is also likely to benefit you when you apply for life insurance, mortgage protection, serious illness cover or income protection. This is because the cost of cover is based on a number of factors such as, the number of years you need cover, your age, whether you smoke and your health at the time you apply. If you would like to know more about taking out insurance cover and the options available to you, we would recommend contacting a Financial Broker who will be happy to provide you with expert guidance.”


Download PDF of press release (1MB)


*RCPI 2016: Physical Activity: A Prescription for a Wonder Drug

**ARIC Study 2018: Six-Year Changes in Physical Activity and the Risk of Incident Heart Failure

***WHO: Physical Activity Factsheet

****HSE:  Get Ireland Active! The National Physical Activity Plan for Ireland 

Note to the editor

  All Adults Male Female 18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+ Dublin Rest of Leinster Munster



Daily 33% 35% 31% 33% 29% 29% 31% 38% 33% 35% 33% 30%
Every couple of days    35% 33% 38% 31% 37% 36% 36% 35% 40% 30% 32% 39%
Weekly 14% 16% 12% 23% 18% 15% 10% 11% 14% 17% 13% 13%
Maybe a few times a month 9% 9% 10% 2% 11% 10% 13% 8% 5% 11% 12% 9%
Almost Never 6% 5% 8% 6% 4% 8% 7% 6% 6% 6% 7% 6%
Never 2% 3% 2% 6% 1% 1% 3% 2% 2% 1% 3% 3%

About Royal London

Royal London has a history of protecting our policyholders and their families for over 190 years in Ireland, and we’re committed to continue to do so for a long time to come. Today we are owned by The Royal London Mutual Insurance Society Limited – the largest financial life, pensions and investments mutual in the UK, with 4,126 people, providing around 8.6 million policies and more than €164.3 billion in Group funds under management. (Figures as at December 2019).

Royal London’s Irish office is based at 47-49 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.