More adults in Ireland are walking and exercising than ever before since the coronavirus outbreak began, according to research.
The numbers of adults walking for recreation have increased throughout the crisis, rising by a cumulative 18% and is equivalent to more than 3.1 million regular walkers, Sport Ireland said.
Recreational walking among those under the age of 35, in particular the 15-24 age group, has jumped from 51% to 89% throughout the restrictions.
Sport Ireland said the number of adults participating in sport and recreational walking during Covid-19 restrictions is unprecedented in the history of its research.
More than half of the adult population (52%) report they are engaging in sufficient levels of activity to meet the national physical activity guidelines.
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 activities dominate the sporting landscape at present, with approximately 710,000 participants in exercise, 680,000 runners and 510,000 cyclists.
The increase in the number of people partaking in sport and recreational walking means the proportion of adults described as sedentary in the national sports policy has declined to 11% compared to 22% during the same period in 2019 – the lowest level of sedentarism ever recorded by Sport Ireland.
Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy said that despite the restrictions in place around sporting activities, overall levels of participation in exercise are now greater than they were during the same period in 2019.
“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.”