Swiss are sporty but some still need a push

Cycling is the most popular physical activity swiss-image

The largest ever survey of Swiss exercise habits has found that the majority of people are sports lovers.

This content was published on April 18, 2008 - 17:50

Two out of three people said they exercised at least once a week, according to a government commissioned study published on Friday.

However, the authorities say more needs to be done to motivate those who still do not do any physical exercise.

"We are happy to learn that a majority of the population is actually active. The image of sport is quite good," Beatrice Wertli of the Federal Sport Office told swissinfo.

"It is a basis that we can build on. But the question is how can we get those who remain inactive to move."

The federal office says it will look at encouraging children to start sport early on and will focus immediately on areas the study showed were in need of help, such as French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland.

Wertli said time was one of the main reasons given by people who did not do sport.

Incentives such as lower insurance payments for the healthier population could be a solution but the government would also start enlisting support from relevant groups, associations and from the cantons to cross-promote the need for sport, she added.

"We have many actors and institutions that must help to improve the situation," she noted.

Football and cycling

More than 11,000 people aged between ten and 74 took part in the survey over the past year.

Football was named the top team sport and cycling the favourite individual physical activity, followed by hiking, swimming, skiing, jogging and going to the gym.

Most people said they were active to stay healthy or simply because they enjoyed it.

Three-quarters of respondents said they did some sport activity.

About 40 per cent said they did sport several times a week, 25 per cent at least once a week and 16 per cent more occasionally.

A quarter said they did not do any physical activity at all.

Regional differences

The study showed up regional differences across Switzerland.

About 20 per cent of people in the main German-speaking region admitted they never did any sport.

However the percentage was twice as high in the French- and Italian-speaking regions.

While women are just as active as men, the level of physical activity increased in line with education, professional status and personal earnings, according to the study. Foreign residents were less active than the Swiss.

But age was the main determining factor, with a third of people aged 65 to 74 remaining inactive.

Since the last official survey in 2000, an estimated 200,000 people have become more physically active, the authors of the study said.

swissinfo, Jessica Dacey

In brief

Sports Switzerland 2008 was commissioned by the Federal Sport Office and is the country's largest ever sporting survey. It aimed to give a closer look at the nation's sporting habits and needs.

More than 11,000 people were questioned by telephone over 12 months. The 2008 study found that 40% of the population did three hours of physical activity or sport a week, up 4% on 2000.

The findings will be used inform government sports policy and as a research tool on the development of sport in Switzerland.

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