Scottish Health Survey 2017: summary report

Key findings from the Scottish Health Survey 2017 report.

Chapter 7: Physical Activity

Two thirds of adults (65%) met the guidelines for Moderate or Vigorous Physical Activity ( MVPA) in 2017, a slight increase since 2012 (62%)

  • Adherence to the guidelines tended to decline with age, from just over three-quarters of those aged 16-44 (76-78%) to just over a quarter of those aged 75 and above (28%).
  • Older adults were more likely than younger to have very low levels of activity (equivalent to less than half an hour a week of moderate exercise); half of all adults aged 75 and above (50%) compared to one in nine of those aged 16-44 (10-12%) had very low levels of activity.

Men continued to be more likely than women to meet the MVPA guidelines


  • Adherence to the MVPA guidelines was more common among adults in less deprived areas, declining from 72% in the least deprived quintile to 56% in the most deprived quintile.
  • Men spent around one and a half times as long as women doing any form of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week, an average of 15.1 hours for men compared to 9.9 hours for women.

Physical activity levels for children aged 5-15 did not vary significantly by deprivation, but participation in sport for children aged 2-15 in the previous week did


67% of children aged 2-15 had participated in sport in the last week, with similar rates for boys and girls



33%* of children aged 5-15 met the guideline of at least 60 minutes physical activity on each day of the previous week (*this is a new measure of physical activity)

  • The proportion of children meeting the physical activity guidelines declined with age, from 45% of those aged 5-7 to 38% of those aged 8-10 to 28% of those aged 11-12 to 18% of those aged 13-15.
  • Participation in sport was lowest for teenage girls (45% of those aged 13-15) and for pre-school boys (48% of those aged 2-4).


Julie Landsberg

Back to top