The corona crisis has had a major impact on the sports behavior of the Dutch. Last year, the number of people who regularly exercise fell again, sports organization concludes NOC-NSF based on a monthly sample of at least three thousand Dutch people and research into membership figures of Dutch sports associations. Young people in particular have started to exercise less during the lockdowns: the decrease of 13 percentage points was greatest in this group.
In 2019, about 78 percent of young people exercised weekly. A year later, that dropped significantly to 68 percent and in 2021 the decline continued to 65 percent. Many swimming, fitness or dance clubs saw young people leave, but outdoor sports clubs such as football and equestrian sports also saw a decline. Young people have started walking and rollerblading more when sports clubs were closed for a long time due to the corona measures.
Adults have also started exercising less in the past two years, although the decrease in this group is smaller. Monthly sports participation decreased from 62 percent in 2019 to 54 percent in 2021. However, adults, just like young people, did walk more during the coronalockdowns. The Koninklijke Wandel Bond Nederland therefore gained almost 70,000 members in 2021. People have also started cycling more in the last two years. Nevertheless, a majority of sports federations have seen a decline in membership numbers.
“The Netherlands has literally been brought to a standstill due to the corona crisis,” says NOC-NSF director Marc van den Tweel. He finds it worrying that fewer and fewer young people are taking part in sports. “After the corona crisis, we are now in a movement crisis,” he says.