Overall, there was an increase in female fitness membership throughout the period examined, while the opposite was true for male counterparts.

Above is a sentence I wrote that is supposed to mean "Over the period of 30 years, the number of women working out at a gym increased despite some fluctuations". In this sentence, I'm trying to ignore the changes in between and focus on the first year and the last year. I mean after everything that happened, the number increased.

My question is: Am I using "throughout the period" correctly here? Can it be used that way or must there be a consistent upward trend from start to finish for me to write it the way I did? If the sentence is currently incorrect, does adding despite some fluctuations make it right?

enter image description here

  • If you want to say that it was mostly increasing, with occasional decreases, you can say "female fitness generally increased during the period".
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 25 at 14:57
  • Could you add the IELTS, please? Spelled ielts
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 28 at 9:33

2 Answers 2


Overall, there was an increase in female fitness membership throughout the period examined, while the opposite was true for male counterparts.

Collins Dictionary says

If you say that something happens throughout a particular period of time, you mean that it happens during the whole of that period.

Hence we may not want to use that phrase. Adding despite some fluctuations may help in minimising understanding but will lengthen the sentence. As we just want to express a net increase between two points in a period of time, we may state just that:

Overall, there was a net increase in female fitness membership from 1985 to 2015, while the opposite was true for male counterparts.

  • Thank you! What about "over the years"? Is it better than "throughout the years" in this case? Commented Mar 25 at 13:26
  • @anIELTSlearner They're essentially the same.
    – Barmar
    Commented Mar 25 at 14:55
  • I am not a native speaker, but I disagree that "... has increased over the last 30 years" means that it has increased every single year in the last 30 years, and I am confident that many native speakers would disagree with this interpretation too. Indeed, I think "... has increased over the last 30 years" is precisely what the OP is trying to express. Commented Mar 25 at 16:47

I don't feel you have used this word correctly in the context of what you are presenting.

The dictionary definition of 'throughout' is in every part of a place or object. So, saying there was an increase throughout the period would suggest that there was an increase at every stage of the period; in other words, that the memberships kept increasing, and increasing, and increasing. Your visual shows that isn't the case. The numbers rose, then fell, then rose, then fell.

I would say that female fitness membership fluctuated throughout the period.

If it had fluctuated a little, but broadly showed an increase (ie the jumps up were greater than the drops and you ended on a higher figure overall), I might say that the membership broadly trended upwards over the period. I wouldn't use 'throughout' because there was no consistency.

However, in the case of the visual you are presenting, the final number in 2015 for female membership is about a third lower than the 2 highest periods, and barely higher than the number from 25 years before it. I would not describe this as an increase.

  • Astralbee, for broadly showed an increase, can I instead say showed a broad increase? Over the period is about the overall trend of the period, while throughout the period is every part of the period? Commented May 6 at 17:07

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