Figures Reveal More Active Adult Population

Findings from the Irish Sports Monitor (ISM) 2019 Mid-Year Report published by Sport Ireland yesterday show that 46 per cent of the Irish population (approximately 1.78 million people) participated in sport at least once a week in 2019 compared to 43% for the equivalent period in 2017.

This represents an additional 100,000 regular sports participants in the country.

Aside from the increase in active participation, improvements were also reported in the numbers taking part socially in sport while there are also positive signs in a reducing gender gap, an increase in physical activity from people with a disability and a decline in the number of adults not taking part in either sport or recreational walking.

The survey is based on questions asked in the first six months of the year with 4,200 adults aged 16 and over.

It suggests that adults are more aware of the importance of physical activity and counters the more disappointing figures revealed in a joint study of children’s physical activity published in September.

At that time we wrote that “If we had a sense that things were pretty good in relation to our children’s activity, we may have been living in something of a bubble.”

“Only 17 per cent of primary children in the Republic and 20 per cent in the North get the recommended level of 60 minutes of physical activity each day.”

“If that looks disappointing the numbers drop to only 10 and 11 per cent respectively at post Primary level.”

The figures published yesterday paint a more positive picture of what is happening once children have left school and are making their own choices.

The target in the National Sports Policy is that there should be no gap between the numbers of men and women taking part in sport and physical activity by 2027.

This year’s interim figure suggests that it has been reduced from 4.5 per cent to 3.9 per cent over the past two years. When the Irish Sports Monitor was first introduced in 2007 that number was at 15.7 per cent.

In terms of disability, the number of those with a long term illness or disability who have taken part in a sport or physical activity on a weekly basis has climbed from 29 per cent to 33 per cent, a positive number to take into Cara’s National Seminar on Inclusion taking place in Dublin tomorrow.

In terms of the popularity of respective sports the interim report only lists the top 5 as being:

16 per cent Personal Exercise
8 per cent Swimming
7 per cent Running
4 per cent Cycling
3 per cent Dance which replaces football in the Top five.


“The Irish Sports Monitor mid-year report shows further progress towards the 2027 targets set out in the National Sports Policy 2018-2027.”

“There has been an encouraging increase in the number of adults actively and socially engaged in sport, meaning more people are benefitting from the physical, mental and social dimensions of sport and physical activity. It is also encouraging that the gender gap in active participation has narrowed slightly.”

Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin

“It is encouraging at this mid-point to see growth in the numbers participating in sport and also in social participation through volunteering, club membership and attendance at sporting events.”

“The Board of Sport Ireland will continue to prioritise our efforts to increase participation right across all groups in our society. The insights gained from the Irish Sport Monitor are key to informing future actions in this regard.”

Chairman of Sport Ireland, Kieran Mulvey

“The ISM provides important data on sport, physical activity and social participation across the country. It provides valuable information to support decision making by the Committee.”

Chair of the Sport Ireland Research and Participation Committee Olive Loughnane

“The Irish Sports Monitor helps to inform Sport Ireland of social factors that affect participation in sport and identifies key groups that are not participating or have a low level of participation.”

“This knowledge and insight informs our attentions and actions. The mid-year report is encouraging overall, and the results are moving in the right direction.”

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy

The report can be downloaded in full by clicking on the image below

Image credits,

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