Irish Exercise Figures Soar in Lockdown

The proportion of Irish people who are deemed as sedentary and doing harmfully little physical activity has halved since this time last year.

It may seem counter-intuitive but the number of adults participating in sport and recreational walking at the moment is unprecedented in the history of Sport Ireland research according to the second volume of a report published today.

According to the research, which was conducted by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of Sport Ireland, the current participation rate in sporting activity is 51%. Three sports dominate the sporting landscape at present with approximately 710,000 participating in exercise, 680,000 running and 510,000 cycling.

More than half of the adult population (52%) report that they are engaging in sufficient levels of activity to meet the National Physical Activity Guidelines and for those who like to compare, a similar study by Sport England over recent weeks revealed that number to be only 32 per cent in our near neighbours.

Most importantly that number of sedentary citizens has fallen to 11 per cent from 22 per cent over the same period in 2019.

The latest phase of the research took place between 30th April and 15th May and was built out of 5,000 interviews.

“The findings of the second volume of research commissioned by Sport Ireland show that sport and physical activity still play a very important role in society throughout the Covid-19 crisis,” said Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Brendan Griffin launching the report.

“The importance of regular exercise for physical and mental wellbeing cannot be stressed enough. It is promising to see that the sports participation rate currently sits at 51 per cent, which is higher than the target set out in the National Sports Policy 2018-2027.”

“As Ireland looks to reopen society and business in line with the roadmap laid out by Government, sport and physical activity will play an important role as we look to emerge from this pandemic. The background work being put in by the National Governing Bodies and Local Sports Partnerships will ensure that this is the case.”

The numbers of adults walking for recreation have increased throughout the crisis, increasing by a cumulative 18 per cent over the five phases of the research. The figure of 83 per cent is the highest level ever recorded and is equivalent to over 3.1 million regular walkers.

“Despite the restrictions in place around sports facilities, team sports and a number of other sporting activities, it is welcome to see that overall levels of participation are now greater than they were during the same period in 2019,” said Sport Ireland CEO John Treacy.

“It is really encouraging to see a strong uptake in recreational walking among those under the age of 35, in particular the 15-24 age group where participation has jumped from 51 per cent to 89 per cent throughout the restrictions.”

“Another positive is the gender gap in participation, which is now virtually non-existent. During a period unprecedented in modern times, it is highly encouraging that Irish adults are seeking to look after their own health and well-being through taking part in regular sport and physical activity.”

“The sports sector is continuing to innovate and support individuals in staying active in a safe manner. We look forward to the controlled reintroduction of more sporting activity in line with the Government’s roadmap over the coming months.”


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