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Friday, 7 January, 2000, 12:58 GMT
Chubby Britain heads for gym

More people than ever are heading for gyms


More people than ever are visiting UK gyms and fitness clubs, according to statistics.

Despite being in the grip of what is described as an "obesity epidemic", the UK spent a record 1.25bn on such activities last year.

Top gym users
London 21%
South 16%
Yorkshire, North East, North West 14%
Anglia, Midlands 13%
Scotland 11%
Sout West, Wales 9%
This is 58% more than five years ago if inflation is taken into account.

And 14% of adults - some seven million of us - are working out in some way or other.

Gym memberships have increased by 49% over the past six years - although the number of well-intentioned memberships that never get used are not recorded.

However, four in ten people still think that membership prices are too steep.

London is also the capital when it comes to gym use, with more than one in five of those surveyed claiming to regularly go to the gym.

The least active area is Wales and the south-west, where less than one in ten work out.

Fat country

As a whole, the UK is facing a sharp rise in the number of people suffering from obesity.

A total of 21% of women, and 17% of men are classed as obese in the UK.

Obesity increases the risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

Experts have estimated that exercise which raises the heart rate for twenty minutes a few times a week is beneficial to health.

Adults aged 20 to 44 are the most common gym-users, suggests the survey, and three quarters of those claim to use them at least once a week.

About 20% of non-users said they did not go to private fitness clubs and gyms because they were too frightened
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See also:
02 Dec 99 |  Health
Girls 'fitter than tests show'
14 Dec 99 |  Health
England's heart health getting worse
16 Dec 99 |  Health
Stretching before exercise 'a waste of time'
30 Jul 99 |  Health
Exercise beats back pain
03 Jun 99 |  Health
Obesity threatens ill health epidemic

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