A community survey examined attitudes to exercise in relation to health, measured levels of exercise participation, and related exercise participation to resting pulse rate. A questionnaire was sent to 400 Southampton residents selected by a systematic random sample from the electoral roll, and provided 259 useful responses, yielding an effective response rate of 68%, with an average age of 46 years. Attitudes to health benefits of exercise were generally very positive; 92% thought that exercise was important for staying in good health. Attitudes were less positive in subjects over 50 years old, and in social classes IV and V. Although 35% had done some vigorous exercise during the last four weeks only 7% of social classes IV and V had done so. A total of 22 (8.5%) had exercised for at least 20 minutes, 3 or more times per week, and 17 (77%) of these were males with an average age of 29 years. Ninety per cent of the sample were able to take their own resting heart rate. Resting heart rate was 7 beat.min-1 lower in subjects who exercised for at least 20 minutes 3 or more times per week than the average.
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