JUST over half of the population is highly active or fairly active on the sports field, running track or in the gym, research by the Irish Sports Council shows.
The better educated and higher achievers were most likely to play sport regularly, the 2007 Irish Sport Monitor report shows, while 18% of the population admit to living sedentary lives.
In the first-ever national study of the role of sport in Irish people’s lives, the Economic, Social and Research Institute and the sports council research shows that personal exercise, such as attending a gym, a fitness class or using exercise machines are now the most popular type of exercise-taking in this country. The next most popular sport is swimming.
Soccer, meanwhile, is the most popular team sport but the GAA, when volunteering, membership and attendance of games is included, is the leading participatory sport. There are now however more gym members in this country than GAA members.
One third of the 10,000 adults questioned for the study said they played sports for at least 20 minutes the week previous with nearly 60% of people saying they went for a 20 minute walk, the week previous.
It was revealed, however, that women walk more than men and that women seem to encourage their menfolk to put on their walking boots as men in couples walk much more than single men. Up to 40% of the country walk regularly as a means of transport, although this figure is much lower in rural locations.
Of those who were questioned in the poll, 68% said that they play sport more than once a week, with 69% saying they play high effort sports while 62% of those who responded to the poll said that they played sport “in a non-organised setting” with family or friends.
The Irish Sports Council study shows that Irish exercise levels are roughly in line with other developed countries but that we still lag behind best performing countries like the Scandinavian nations and English-speaking commonwealth nations.
Chairman of the Irish Sports Council, Ossie Kilkenny said that the research is of huge value as the ICS tries to work out why some people are active sports people and others not.
“The value of sport is widely accepted and it has great potential to further enrich the lives of individuals and communities. We wanted to develop a resource that accurately measures engagement with sport and can evaluate the impact of various interventions, not least our own,” Mr Kilkenny said.
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