Eliisa Haanpää

Young People – Sedentary or Physically Active?

Youth Leisure Surveys collect valuable data on the leisure activities of Finnish children and young people. The survey is carried out every three years with varying main themes. Recurring themes in the surveys include hobbies, friendships and satisfaction with different aspects of life. The studies are carried out by the Advisory Council for Youth Affairs (Nuora) and the Finnish Youth Research Society.

In the 2009 survey, the respondents were aged 10-29. The main theme was participation in the activities of clubs, voluntary organisations and the like.

The 2013 survey focused on sport and physical activities, and the sample consisted of persons between seven and 29 years of age. The study is very topical, as there has been much discussion in Finland, both on the administrative level and in the national media, on the physical inactivity of young people. Physical inactivity heightens the risk of adult obesity and related diseases if young people do not adopt healthier lifestyles as they get older. In addition to everyday physical activity, both young people and adults should regularly take strenuous exercise that increases respiratory rate and makes one sweat (UKK Institute recommendation).

Physical activity

The most recent Youth Leisure Survey investigated which physical activities young people engage and what kind of sport they take part in. The frequency of exercise as well as reasons for physical inactivity were also studied.

The survey examined which various different forms of physical activity, from individual exercise to team sports, the respondents engaged in. According to the results, it is popular among young people to participate in physical activity organised by sports clubs and to exercise in various commercial facilities and services such as gyms and riding schools. 39% of all respondents indicated that they participate in the activities of a sports club weekly or more often, while 29% said they used commercial sports facilities or services weekly or more often. Looking at different age groups, participation in sports clubs was more popular among the younger groups, that is, seven- to nine-year-olds and ten- to fourteen-year-olds, while the use of commercial services was more prevalent among those aged 15-29.

The discussion about increasing physical inactivity of young people is not reflected in the views of the young people who participated in the survey, as 84% were satisfied with their own fitness level. There was little variation between the different age groups in this question.


Charts showing the distributions between the age groups in two questions. Source: FSD2846 Youth Leisure Survey 2013

The Youth Leisure Survey data from 2009 and 2013 are archived at the FSD and are available for scientific and teaching purposes. The data are translated into English on request.

More information

  • Source material of the charts and distributions: Youth Leisure Survey 2013 [computer file]. FSD2846, version 1.0 (2013-08-12). Lappeenranta: MC-Info & Helsinki: Norstat Finland [data collection], 2012. Helsinki: Finnish Youth Research Society. Finnish Youth Research Network & Advisory Council for Youth Affairs (Nuora) & Helsinki: National Sports Council [producers], 2013. Tampere: Finnish Social Science Data Archive [distributor], 2013.
  • Ordering data