A survey from the British Heart Foundation (BHF) has revealed that mechanics are the most physically active profession, exercising an average of four days per week.
The poll of 2,000 workers was commissioned by the BHF, to mark their Cycling Campaign this month, and Santander, sponsors of the charity’s national bike ride series.
When asked on average how many times a week they spent doing physical activity, mechanics topped the list, exercising on average 4.44 times each week. Those in leisure and tourism roles exercise 4.12 times in an average week, with marketing and PR professionals and plumbers, electricians and construction workers exercising 4.07 and 4.06 times respectively.
Despite 78% of bankers polled admitting they spend the majority of their working day sitting a desk, they came in the top ten of the fittest professions, taking part in physical activity an average of 3.38 times a week.
The top three motivators for exercise according to those polled, were identified as improving physical fitness (60%), to live a healthier lifestyle (55%) and to lose weight (46%).
Cycling fever was seen to be still very much in the air, with doctors, dentists and those in banking shown to be the professions most likely to hop on their bikes. More than 90% of those polled in these sectors said they spend some time pedalling each week.
When asked what the main reasons were that prevented them cycling to work, over half of those surveyed (52%) felt distance was the main problem with close to a third (28%) citing it was too dangerous to cycle to work. Close to a quarter (23%) said lack of showers at their work place put them off cycling and almost a fifth (17%) stated that they need a car for work.
Marketing professionals were seen to cycle the furthest distance in a week, covering an average of 39 miles. In contrast, teachers and school workers were shown to cycle the shortest distance of 25 miles each week, only just beaten by nurses and care works, who said they cycle an average of 26 miles a week.
Cycling for leisure was found to be a popular pastime, with bankers showing to be the most enthusiastic with over three quarters (87%) of those surveyed saying they often take part in family bike rides or cycle for fun, come rain or shine. Those working in IT were shown to cycle the longest distance for leisure, cycling up to 10 miles in a day.
As well as the health benefits associated with cycling, the survey revealed the cost benefit of switching to cycling for the daily commute. Teachers were found to pocket the most from a cycling commute with the average saving of £76.13 per month.
Close to a third (29%) of those surveyed felt the staple fashion of cycling, Lycra, should be retired before cyclists turn 40. However, those working in the beauty industry identified that 27 years old was the age limit for wearing the stretchy fabric whereas teachers and school workers were a little more generous and claimed 44 years old was the age cyclists should stop wearing the controversial garb.
Weather was seen to have a strong influence on the distance cycled by all professions surveyed, as all confessed to reducing the miles they cycle in the winter months. The research found that IT workers are most likely to be fair weather cyclists, reducing the distance they cycle in summer by an average of nine miles per week as soon as the winter chill set in.
Martin Mears, Events Manager at the BHF, said: “We want to get the nation cycling, our survey shows that while professionals enjoy cycling it is not always practical, but we don’t want this to discourage them. Cycling is a fantastic way to have fun and improve your heart health and can be done in the evenings and at the weekends. We organise around 25 bike rides throughout the UK, sponsored by Santander, which are open to a variety of abilities and offer participants a great way to improve their own heart health whilst raising vital funds for the BHF’s life-saving research.”
Director of Recreation and Partnerships from British Cycling, Stewart Kellett adds: “It is wonderful to see that professionals are welcoming cycling as a form of exercise, but work commitments can often mean that it is not possible to cycle to work, or some people may not feel confident to get on their bike. This survey demonstrates that while cycling is a popular activity that people across all professions clearly enjoy, perceived safety fears and a lack of proper changing facilities are putting workers off.
“British Cycling is committed to supporting everyone who wants to get on a bike and we are working with the BHF to help novice cyclists build their confidence. Cycling is extremely beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing and we would urge anyone with an interest in cycling and improving their fitness levels to take part in a BHF bike ride this summer.”
For more information about the BHF’s cycle rides, visit bhf.org.uk/cycle