Single people exercise more.
Married couples exercise less than single people, according to a survey that suggests matrimony means living more in sickness than in health.
The poll, commissioned by the Department of Health found that spouses were far less likely to take the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week than singletons or divorcees.
In total only 27 per cent of adults questioned met the exercise guidelines, with women 10 percentage points more likely than men to keep fit.
Of those who did less than the recommended amount of running, cycling, swimming or playing sports, 76 per cent of the men and 63 per cent of the women were married.
By contrast, just 24 per cent of men who failed to meet the guidelines and 33 per cent of the women were single or divorced.
Dr Len Almond, visiting professor at St Mary’s University College who helped develop the adult activity guidelines, said: “Because married people are often older and have more responsibility for children and other factors, it could be these responsibilities which are curtailing their activity patterns. Weekends are a golden opportunity to take the family out – especially for married families – to get out and enjoy a natural environment – which has also been shown to have additional benefits.”
In the survey, carried out by Loughborough University, 100 adults around the country were given accelerometers to wear for two weeks, to track their pace, and asked to complete a questionnaire about their activity levels.
In an attempt to help more people raise their fitness levels, the Government’s Change4Life website is now offering more advice on how people can reach the 150 minute target.
A new “get going” campaign suggests simply speeding up daily activities in an attempt to protect against obesity and heart disease.
The Chief Medical Officer, Prof Dame Sally Davies, said: “Doing a little bit of physical activity each day offers huge benefits. That is why my UK colleagues and I recently updated the guidelines so they were more flexible for everyone. Adults can now get their 150 active minutes a week in sessions of ten minutes or more. This can be from enjoyable everyday activities such as walking at a good pace or even digging in the garden.”
Academic research published last year showed that married couples were twice as likely to be obese than their single counterparts.
It was suggested that husbands and wives “let themselves go” as they enjoy more comfortable lifestyles, spending more time in front of the television and having sex less frequently than singletons.