An exclusive Repucom study for the Sport and Citizenship think tank published in November 2015 outlines various trends in the way French people do sport. At home, outdoors, in a gym, in the workplace or on daily journeys…. These are the main conclusions of the enquiry.
In 2015, 4 out of 5 French citizens claim to participate in a physical or sporting activity. This encouraging state of affairs shows how enthusiastic the French are about sport. Health is the main reason for taking exercise, but most people state that they do less than three hours sport a week. French people now consider that sport is a major issue for future generations, and expect more to be done to facilitate doing sport as close as possible to where they live, not forgetting their preoccupation with purchasing power.
There is still a lot to be done to make society even more active, so as to increase the time spent on doing sport on the one hand, and to get the 20% who say they never do any physical activity started, on the other.
Outdoor sport, number 1
For 51% of those questioned, the favourite setting for doing sport or a physical activity is the natural environment. This is above the European average figure. Is it just a trend, or the growing appeal of free, unsupervised activities such as jogging? This also confirms the results of a previous Repucom survey for Sport and Citizenship, which gave the natural environment as the favourite place for doing sport, and emphasises yet again the interest public authorities have in preserving and developing it.
At present there are actually few French people who make sport a physical activity part of their daily life, because only one in five people integrate it into their daily journeys, and only 5% do an activity in the workplace (9% in the Paris region).
A deep-rooted understanding of the health issue
Health is the main reason for taking exercise, but the majority of those who do sport (67%) state that they do less than three hours a week. This proportion is even greater among women (76%) and people living in towns of over 20,000 inhabitants (71%). This shows that the overall system is not addressing the sport question properly, and that women also find it more difficult to free up enough time to do a sport or physical activity. Practical solutions are possible, such as installing crèches in sports clubs (as is already the case in Sweden), or giving more encouragement to sport in the workplace, with its low level of participation (5%) and lack of organisation in France.
There are other disparities between men and women. For men, the reasons for doing sport have more to do with a balanced life and self-confidence, while for women the reasons are linked to their physical appearance.
Lack of time and motivation as the main obstacle
Lack of time is by far the biggest reason (51%) why French people do not do a physical activity more regularly. This figure reaches 60% for people with children. Lack of motivation is the second biggest obstacle to doing sport, but lack of sports facilities and/or sufficient free time are also given as significant obstacles.
Purchasing power and sport as close as possible to where French people live
French people want sport to fit into their daily lives and take account of their obligations regarding time, distance and cost.
Among the measures French people suggested for improving the place of sport in their daily lives, most people (41%) wanted lower costs, in response to their preoccupation with purchasing power. Following that were measures for making it easier to do sport, particularly developing spaces in towns (39%) to encourage doing sport as close as possible to where people live. This is an idea that needs to be developed, in big towns and cities and especially in more isolated communities. Finally, there is strong awareness of the need to strengthen the place of sport in schools (33%), a key issue for future generations.
A reading of this survey reveals that the issue for the future will really be to make citizens, towns and the rural areas more active. Our think tank is determined to get this message across, in France and in Europe, partly through pursuing our PASS project (see page 31).
Read the full enquiry on the Sport and Citizenship think tank website
 « Sport, Santé, Environnement : et si la France devenait précurseur ? », étude exclusive Repucom pour le think tank Sport et Citoyenneté, Déc. 2014Author : sportetcitoyennete