More people are regularly participating in sport, report says

Irish Sports Monitor review finds personal exercise is the most popular physical activity

Personal exercise remains the most popular physical activity, according to a new report.

Personal exercise remains the most popular physical activity, according to a new report.


More people are participating in sport at least once a week, with personal exercise the most popular activity, according to a new report.

The Irish Sports Monitor 2019 Mid-Year Report, published by Sport Ireland on Tuesday, measures adult participation in sport and physical activity.

The current mid-year report provides an interim update on data collected during the first six months of this year. It is based on interviews with more than 4,200 people aged 16 and over.

The key finding is that 46 per cent of the Irish population (approximately 1.78 million people) participated in sport at least once a week in 2019, compared with 43 per cent for the equivalent period in 2017. This represents an additional 100,000 participants.

Improvements were also reported in the numbers taking part in sport socially, while the gender gap in participation declined from 4.5 per cent at the end of 2017 to 3.9 per cent at the 2019 mid-year point. When the monitor was introduced in 2007 the gender gap was 15.7 per cent.

Furthermore, the number of people who do not participate in sport or recreational walking decreased from 22 per cent in 2017 to 20 per cent in 2019.

Overall, personal exercise remains the most popular activity, followed by swimming, running and cycling. Dancing replaced soccer to round out the top five activities.

Social factors

Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy said the monitor helps to inform the organisation of social factors that affect participation in sport and identifies key groups who are not participating or have a low level of participation.

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

The report also shows that for the first time the disability gradient gap has decreased for those participating in sport to 16 per cent, compared with 18 per cent in 2017.

The report said that people who are highly active reported higher levels of wellbeing, indicated by higher life satisfaction and happiness and lower levels of anxiety.