At the point at which the clocks went forward at the end March, BMG Research included a question on their monthly omnibus study to determine what impact the lighter evenings might have on weekly exercise levels.

Among a national representative sample of 1,552 individuals, a total of 43% stated that the lighter evenings would make them more likely to exercise. This was comprised of 23% who suggested they were much more likely to do so, and 20% who were a little more likely to do so. The remaining 57% suggested that their exercise levels would be unaffected by the lighter evenings.

Breaking the responses down further shows that those under the age of 44 most commonly suggest that they are much more likely to exercise in the lighter evenings.  Indeed, in the 18 to 24, 25 to 34 and 35 to 44 age groups, the proportion suggesting that their exercise levels are likely to increase as a result of the clocks change is a majority rather than a minority (62%, 56% and 52% respectively). No significant variations are evident by gender.

Commenting on these results Steve Handley, Research Director at BMG said: “These findings suggest that the annual debate about the benefits of the clocks changing should take into account the impact of darker periods, which seem to be associated with lower levels of physical activity.  These results also provide fresh evidence that data on self-reported levels of physical activity may have a seasonality to it that public health practitioners should be aware of.”

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