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The Healthiest Sports Fans In The UK Revealed!

Friends watch sports on TV, cheer and celebrate. Happy diverse supporters fans sit on couch with popcorn and drinks.

The study, conducted by the charitable social enterprise, Better, asked 2,000 sports fans across the country questions about their daily exercise regimes, their participation in sports, their sport-viewing habits, their fruit and vegetable intake and their alcohol consumption, to determine which sports fans are hitting the treadmill and which ones prefer the comfort of their sofas when watching their favourite athletes compete.

Examining the 7 most popular sports in the country, the study looks at football, rugby, cricket, formula 1, golf, cycling and tennis, with the overall ranking below:

RankSports FansBetter’s ‘Fit’ Score
1Cycling Fans38/49
1Tennis Fans38/49
3Golf Fans35/49
4Formula One Fans34/49
4Cricket Fans34/49
6Football Fans30/49
7Rugby Fans25/49

Cycling and tennis fans performed well across all 7 categories, laying claim to the joint-top spot in the UK overall. Cycling fans performed particularly strongly when it came to sports participation, with 75% of fans saying they cycle sometimes or often, and they were also one of the least likely to be seen in the pub watching sport (just 37%), but were instead one of the most likely to watch sports in the gym (30%).

Tennis fans scored best in the “drinking” category, with just 7% saying they consume more than 10 units of alcohol each week, compared to cricket and rugby fans, who were found to be the biggest drinkers, with 12% of fans saying they drink 10 units or more weekly.  

Impressively, third-placed golfing fans gained top scores in both participation questions, as 76% said they play golf either sometimes or often, and 31% who said they watch sports in the gym or while exercising.

However, they were let down by their overall daily exercise levels, with just 28% saying they achieve over 60 minutes of exercise each day. They were also one of the more inclined sporting fans to visit the pub to watch sport with their friends.

Formula One fans placed joint fourth, but were the most active of all the fans, with 34% achieving over 60 minutes of activity each day, while fellow fourth spot fans, cricket lovers, were the healthiest eaters, with 21% eating five or more fruit and vegetables every day.

Sixth-place football fans were the most active, with 34% getting over 60 minutes of exercise every day, and were also found to be the least likely to drink more alcohol while watching sports (45%).

However, they fell short in a number of other categories, including when it came to participation in football, with the lowest percentage (56%) of fans saying they play football on a regular basis.

Last-placed rugby fans were one of the worst in many categories. Along with football, they were the least likely to participate in their favourite sport themselves (56% play sometimes or often), they were the most likely to watch from the pub (45%), and were also one of the biggest drinkers.

In general, however, the benefits of sport were clear to see across the board. 1 in 2 of all sports fans said it helps them socialise more with friends and family, and 49% said watching sport benefited their mental health.

A further 35% said it makes them feel part of a community, and 33% said it inspires them to be more active – clear benefits that help fans live a happier and healthier life.

Phil Hannen, Health Intervention Manager at Better, commented on the findings: “While our research explores how sports fans vary in their enthusiasm to emulate the sports stars they watch every week, the one thing clearly highlighted is how beneficial the presence of sports is in so many people’s lives.

“Coming out of difficult moments where sports events were cancelled, and so many were isolated in their homes, we can see from these results how essential the presence of sports has been, improving socialisation with friends, bettering mental health, and making fans feel part of a tight-knit community.

It also encourages a large number of people to become more active themselves, and this is a huge aim of Better, to increase participation in sports and fitness across all ages and abilities.”