Rise of the active over 65s: Figures show those aged 72 are UK’s most regular gym users

New figures, published today by healthcare provider Nuffield Health, reveal that the over 65s are the UKs most frequent gym users, highlighting the increasing importance of good health and fitness to the older generation. Across Nuffield Health’s 75 UK fitness and wellbeing gyms, figures show that septuagenarians are actually leading the way, with gym usage peaking at age 72, at eight visits per month on average – up from aged 68 in 2013.*

The figures show:  

  • The age of the most frequent gym users across the UK is 72 years old, at eight visits per month *
  • Those aged 70-79 are the decade most frequently using the gyms at 7.5 days a month on average.** 
  • Over 65’s are the most frequent users across all UK clubs


  • The average age of the most frequent gym users in Scotland rises to 75 years old at just over eight visits per month; 
  • In London the figure drops to 65 year old, at eight visits per month on average
  • 74 year-olds in Leicester are the UK’s most frequent gym users, averaging 14 visits per month;  
  • Leicester also has the most active over 65s visiting 10 times a month on average, twice as frequently as those in London (6 visits per month);  
  • Edinburgh, St Albans, Sheffield and Glasgow have the highest numbers of octogenarians gym members in the UK

While the over 65s have historically been considered the least active age group, but Nuffield Health figures reveal a clear trend that once this group is engaged with exercise, the more frequently they tend to use the gym.   The figures provide a snapshot of the lifestyles of older people in the UK, and the increasing desire to remain active later into life.  

Nuffield Health’s Deputy Medical Director of Wellbeing, Dr Auldric Ratajczak, said:

“The sheer number of older gym users in our gyms speaks volumes about the desire of those in the UK to remain fit and healthy.   The fact that our older members are using the facilities more often than any other is hugely encouraging. We know that regular exercise reduces the risk of memory decline, muscle loss and heart disease. In fact exercise is the super pill we’ve been looking for to live happier and healthier through our later decades.”  In light of the trend and after successful trials, Nuffield Health Hospitals and Gyms have combined to launch a unique recovery program for surgical patients to future-proof them against ill health and sedentary lifestyles following major surgery. Consultants say older people and those in poor health will benefit from the programme which could play a vital role in reducing hospital readmissions for repeat injuries and falls, as well as improving general health and reducing heart problems and obesity associated illness.

The Recovery Plus program* is a combination of personalised and focused rehabilitation, nutrition and exercise over three months and aimed at people who have undergone surgery for procedures like hip and knee replacement, anterior cruciate ligament, spinal surgeries, as well as helping women recover more quickly from major gynaecological surgeries including hysterectomy. The unique program takes place over 3 months in a Nuffield Health fitness & wellbeing gym, following hospital discharge.

Nuffield Health’s Director of Physiotherapy and Recovery Plus lead,  Liz Adair, said:  

“Many patients who come in for surgery have been living with reduced fitness and mobility and are often suffering from related illness like obesity or high blood pressure.  Once the surgery has been carried out, patients may return to the sedentary lifestyle they were leading before the surgery because they feel vulnerable, have lost confidence, or have just got out of the habit of being active.   We want to encourage patients to get back to a level of fitness that they may have not experienced since long before their problems started.” 

*Recovery Plus is only available at Chichester Hospital and Nuffield Health a St Bartholomew's Hospital.

Last updated Wednesday 12 April 2023

First published on Thursday 23 April 2015