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National Fitness Day 2020 inspired a record number of people to be active, with 19.1 million people more active on the day as a result of the national celebration of physical activity, smashing the campaign’s 10 million target and making it the most successful National Fitness Day to date.

A national poll from Savanta ComRes showed a record 8.7 million children took part in physical activity on the day – an increase of more than six million on the previous year, partly inspired and driven by schools taking part in a synchronised 10 minutes of activity at 10am – the ‘10@10’ initiative.

The day kicked off on Wednesday 23 September, with Bear Grylls and Be Military Fit leading a socially-distanced group workout in front of the iconic Battersea Power Station, before the workout Bear shared his message about the incredible mental and physical benefits of getting active on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.

The workout was streamed online, along with hundreds of other workouts throughout the day, powered by open data, to support people in getting active, and thousands of free activities took place in parks, gyms and leisure facilities up and down the UK, offering COVID-secure taster sessions.

The media reach for the campaign was 29.15 million people, on top of 23.4 million through social media, driving the campaign’s tagline for 2020: ‘Fitness Unites Us’. This reach and message helped showcase the important role gyms and leisure facilities play in communities across the country.

National Fitness Day is coordinated each year by ukactive, which was part of the nation’s inaugural Great British Week of Sport supported by Sport England, which ran from 19–27 September. This was the tenth edition of National Fitness Day, having been originally created in 2011 by fitness operator, énergie Fitness. The Great British Week of Sport inspired further activity through headline events each day, in collaboration with partners including Mind, StreetGames, RED Together, ParaDance UK, Ordnance Survey and Fulham Reach Boat Club.

The week began with a poll from ukactive and Savanta ComRes which found that people believe the best way to support the NHS is to be physically active. Being physically active is linked to a reduction in a number of lifestyle diseases and better recovery rates from COVID-19.

Bear Grylls, co-owner of BMF, said: “The country has never needed the message of physical activity helping our physical and mental health more than we do now. It was great to see people training with their friends, within the communities, at free events across National Fitness Day in order to keep active and help them stay physically and mentally strong”.

Will Smithard, ukactive’s Strategic Projects Director, said: “We are delighted that National Fitness Day inspired millions more people to be active on the day this year, showing how much our nation loves to move and how our sector coming together can support people to do so.

The impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s activity levels was laid bare by Sport England in last week’s Active Lives results, however National Fitness Day has shown that when the nation unites around a common goal of being more active, we can deliver some incredible results.

“The role physical activity plays in our lives is vital in supporting our health and wellbeing, as well as the economy, of the UK, so we must ensure that our gyms and leisure centres can remain open as essential services which can help our recovery from COVID-19.”