People in the Netherlands are not getting enough physical activity to benefit their health condition. About 47 percent of the population takes part in a sufficient level of physical activity, with children aged 4 to 11 years being the most active group, according to a 2021 study of 8,442 people conducted by the Dutch public health institute (RIVM).
The study found that young people between the ages of 12 and 17, people with low education and income levels, those with a non-Western ethnic background, and people living in urban areas were least likely to move around enough.
The most popular activities in the Netherlands are fitness, running, football, walking, tennis, and cycling, with yoga being particularly popular among women. Young children spend on average about 14.5 hours per week playing outside, split between almost eight hours in their free time and over six hours at school. These figures have remained stable for years.
The government aims to increase the percentage of the population that gets enough exercise to 75 percent by 2040, but this goal is still a long way off. Since 2002, this percentage has fluctuated between 40 and 50 percent. About 53 percent of people exercised enough in 2020, and 49 percent the year before.
The government advises adults to exercise “at a moderately intensive level” for at least 2.5 hours each week, for example by walking or biking. Children should do this for at least one hour every day. People are also advised to engage in activities that strengthen their muscles and bones two to three times a week, such as weightlifting, stair climbing, or dancing. People should also avoid sitting for prolonged periods.
These recommendations would ultimately help reduce pressure on the healthcare system in the long run.