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Survey: Finnish youth not getting enough exercise

Half of adults meet fitness requirements, but only a third of young men and one fifth of young women are active enough.

Lapsia keinumassa Joensuun Jokiaseman leikkipuistossa.
The survey suggests that young boys are more active than girls. Image: Angela Nurmi / Yle

The Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) has found that a large number of Finns, particularly young students, are not getting enough exercise. The research revealed that adults, as well as high school and primary school students, are exercising at an increasingly high rate, but many still fail to meet the recommended standards.

”Compared to other countries, Finland has physically active and sporty people. However, the challenge remains for the least physically active population groups, such as the elderly or the less educated, to catch up,” stated THL researcher Heini Wennman.

Wennman pointed out that special attention should be paid to young people, as they fell significantly short of the recommended exercise goals when compared to adults, with the results suggesting that that boys get more exercise than girls.

Approximately every third male primary or high school student exercises enough in their free time, while with girls, it is every fifth student. Among vocational school students, every fifth male and every sixth female exercised the recommended amount.

Additionally, the study found that more than half of adults exercise enough according to the recommended level of at least three hours a week. However, only every third adult regularly partakes in intensive fitness training. This means that up to 70 percent of adults get only light exercise or do not exercise at all in their free time.

According to statistics collected in 2017, primary, vocational and high school students clearly exercise less than the recommended amount, seven hours per week, in their free time.

According to the THL, Finland is on its way to achieving the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) physical activity goal, which was established in 2013. The objective is to reduce the physically inactive population by 10 percent by 2025.

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