Press release

Footballers take a dive to make swimming the nations' favourite sport

Monday 23 June 2008

  • Over half of Brits do not play any sport
  • One in five have suffered a serious injury whilst playing sport

Britain's love affair with football seems to be waning as swimming tops the Saga Private Medical Insurance poll of sporting antics as the nations' favorite sport in which to participate.

With no UK team in Euro 2008 it's not just professional footballers that are hanging up their boots this summer. More than one in five (21%) of people swim making it the nations favorite sport with playing football crossing the line only second. Seemingly popular activities such as tennis, golf and running did not make the top five, whereas indoor pub sports like snooker and darts are favourites , suggesting that social interaction is as important as the ambition to keep fit.

For Brits it's the watching not the taking part that matters. Over half the population (51%) plays no sport at all where as over 80% enjoy watching it. The beautiful game tops the list of favorite spectator sports as almost half (46%) of people watch football compared to only one in ten (12%) who play it.

UK top 5 sports to participate in:

1. Swimming (21%)

2. Football (12%)

3. Cycling (10%)

4. Snooker (9%)

5. Darts (8%)

UK top 5 sports to watch:

1. Football (48%)

2. Athletics (30%)

3. Tennis (30%)

4. Snooker (28%)

5. Motorsports (28%)

Women are the lazier sex when it comes to sport with over half (59%) not taking part in any sport versus only two fifths (42%) of men. The most active region of the UK is the capital, where over half of people (55%) play sport compared to 46% in Wales, The South West and the Midlands.

Two thirds (65%) of people over 50 do not play any sport. This is alarming considering the importance to keeping fit and the benefits of an active lifestyle at any age. Of those over 50s who do play sport, swimming was still the most popular, with 14% of them heading for the lanes. Surprisingly, sports commonly associated with the older generation such as bowls and cricket didn't make the top five and were beaten by darts (the traditional pub sport).

Only 16% of people who regularly play sport always take appropriate precautions to protect their bodies from injury, such as wearing shin pads or a mouth guard. Well over half (60%) of people admit to being hurt whilst playing sport and almost one in five (20%) have suffered a serious injury such as a broken bone. Almost half (46%) of sporting accidents have resulted in a trip to hospital and a quarter (25%) also needed physiotherapy.

The research also showed that the younger generation was more safety conscious with over half (71%) protecting themselves depending on the sport compared to only a third (56%) of over 50s.

For many sport is more than just a way to keep fit, it often leads to a whole new social dimension for them, therefore any injury which reduces their ability to participate can have a serious impact on their whole life. Returning to fitness is critical for most people that take part in sports, but waiting lists for treatment of many of these non-urgent injuries can vary greatly throughout the country. PMI however can help people cut through this delay with specialist consultation, condition diagnosis, physiotherapy and even dental treatment cover available.

Andrew Goodsell, Chief Executive, Saga Group Ltd, said: "Being active is a big part of staying fit and healthy. It is therefore of concern to note that two thirds of people over 50 do not play any sport which could be storing up health problems for the future."

For more information on Saga Private Medical Insurance please call 0800 857 857.

-ENDS-

Notes to Editors-

* Analysis carried out by Opinium Research on an online poll of 1,951 British adults between 16 th – 19 th May 2008?

For further press information please contact the Saga Press Office on: 01303 771529.

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