The third annual Irish Sports Monitor report, for the year 2009, is published today by the Irish Sports Council. The report, written by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) on behalf of the Council, measures adult participation in sport and physical activity and compares it with the previously published information from 2007 & 2008.
The report shows that there were increases in the levels of physical activity in 2009, a recovery from 2008 which was badly affected by the onset of recession. The proportion of adults who actively participated in sport rose significantly between 2008 and 2009, from 30.8% to 33.5%
The proportion who walked regularly also went up, from 57.5% to 60.5%. Overall swimming remained the most popular activity (7.2%) ahead of personal exercise (5.8%) and soccer (5.6%). Soccer (10.7%) and golf (8.1%) were the most popular activities for men, while swimming (8.5%) and personal exercise (7.1%) were most popular among women
Walking and cycling as a mode of transport contribute substantially to physical activity, with 45.7% and 11.2% of adults doing each regularly. Students, city dwellers, single people and younger people are particularly likely to walk and cycle for transport.
The proportion of the population that is effectively sedentary fell significantly from 18.2% in 2007 to 15.5% in 2009. This welcome development is driven by a combination of increases in participation in sport, recreational walking and walking for transport. However, the reduction in the level of sedentarism was considerably greater for those on higher incomes who were already less likely to be sedentary.
The report was officially launched by Mr. Michael Ring TD, Minister of State for Tourism and Sport. Speaking at the launch event in Dublin he said; "The reported increase in participation in physical activity is most welcome. Together with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, the Irish Sports Council is working with other Government Departments and many statutory and non‐statutory agencies as well as the various sports organisations to provide opportunities for everyone to enjoy the benefits of sport and physical activity. It is this collaborative approach which will help to make the population of Ireland more active and healthy".
The data reveal a fall in levels of voluntary activity for sport between 2007 and 2009. This is a matter of some concern especially as there are no clear reasons for the drop. Voluntary activity in sport fell from 8.2% in 2007 to 7.8% in 2008 and 6.8% in 2009. Over the period as a whole, levels of voluntary activity fell among both men and women.
John Treacy, Chief Executive of the Irish Sports Council: "The Irish Sports Council is pleased that the Monitor records an increase in participation in 2009 especially as the previous report demonstrated the impact of the recession on sport. The drop in sedentarism is particularly noteworthy and very important from a health viewpoint."
Dr. Pete Lunn, ESRI economist and report author, said: "The link between income and participation is reinforced by the findings of this report. There is no doubt that recession affected sport. Policy makers should note that cost and a lack of free time remain significant barriers to participation in sport."
The Irish Sports Monitor (ISM) is a telephone survey of participation in sport and physical exercise in Ireland, which began in 2007 and continued throughout 2008 and 2009. Based on regular interviews with adults aged 16 and over, the ISM is primarily designed to track levels of participation in sport and recreational exercise, both for the population as a whole and various subpopulations of interest. To
achieve sufficient accuracy, it employs large annual samples: 9,781 in 2009; 6,829 in 2008; 9,767 in 2007.
Over its first three years the Monitor has built up a wealth of new data on Irish sport. An interesting research project has arisen from the accumulation of this data. The Irish Sports Council and the ESRI have embarked upon a series of reports at the county level which will provide detail and analysis for policy maker at a local level. The first in a series of eight reports, for Wicklow & Wexford, was published simultaneously.
Irish Sports Monitor 2009
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