Covid 19 restrictions getting more Irish people moving

By June Shannon Coronavirus News   |   7th May 2020

There has been a big increase in numbers walking, cycling and running since the restrictions were put in place

Irish people are significantly more physically activie since restrictions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have been put in place, with the percentage of inactive adults decreasing by 8 per cent, a new study has revealed.

The research conducted by Ipsos MRBI on behalf of Sport Ireland, found that more adults are active than ever before despite the restrictions and there has also been a significant increase in the numbers of people walking for pleasure.

Overall the survey of more than 1,000 adults found that Irish people are taking part in more individual sports during the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions and there has been a big increase in numbers walking, cycling and running since the restrictions were put in place in March.

The survey was undertaken in three waves: 28 February-9 March, 16-31 March and 1-13 April. The “Delay” phase of Ireland’s response to Covid-19 commenced on 12 March (school closures, limited outdoor gatherings, work from home if possible, etc) while the “Stay at Home” enhanced restrictions phase commenced on 27 March.

A total of 1,009 respondents took part in Waves 1 and 3, and 1,003 took part in Wave 2.

The research shows that this approximately equates to an additional 450,000 regular runners and 220,000 regular cyclists.

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By Wave 3, 78 per cent of Irish adults were reporting that they were walking for recreation at least once per week. This is roughly equivalent to an additional 500,000 regular recreational walkers compared to the numbers of reported walkers during March and April of 2019.

There were also large increases in the number of runners and cyclists compared to the same period last year. The research shows that this approximately equates to an additional 450,000 regular runners and 220,000 regular cyclists.

As a result of this increased activity, the proportion of inactive adults was down to 14 per cent by wave 3, compared to 19 per cent in wave 1 and 22 per cent in March / April 2019. .

The research also found that the gender gap in participation in sport at present was virtually non-existent, however, the social gradients in sport were still as strong as ever.

" A lot of people have extra free time at the moment so it’s brilliant to hear that so many are creating a new healthy habit and hopefully it is one they will carry on into the future,"

Tara Curran, Slí na Sláinte Coordinator, The Irish Heart Foundation

Commenting Tara Curran, Slí na Sláinte Coordinator with the Irish Heart Foundation said, “Taking regular physical activity is fantastic for our heart health, it can help reduce blood pressure, cholesterol and manage weight and stress.  A lot of people have extra free time at the moment so it’s brilliant to hear that so many are creating a new healthy habit and hopefully it is one they will carry on into the future. Many people have also been cocooning for the past few weeks so with the new guidelines that they can now take exercise outdoors, we hope many more people will be getting active.”

Chief Executive of Sport Ireland, John Treacy, commented: “Like all areas of society, the current sporting landscape bears no resemblance to what we had envisaged at the beginning of the year. While our playing fields, stadia and training facilities lay idle for moment, what is encouraging is that evidence suggests that people are substituting their usual sporting activity with regular recreational walking and other individual activities. Increases in walking, running and cycling mean that overall levels of sports participation are similar to what they were during the same period in 2019. The sports sector has reacted quickly to the ongoing situation, with innovative programmes and initiatives being developed to help people stay active safely.”

The Irish Heart Foundation has put together a number of resources to help people keep active during these difficult times you can see them here.

We are here for you

The Irish Heart Foundation’s nurse support line is available five days a week. Anyone living with heart disease and stroke who has concerns or questions about the coronavirus can contact the nurse support line on 01 668 5001 or support@irishheart.ie.

The Irish Heart Foundation’s new heart support group is on Facebook. Anyone who lives with heart failure or another heart condition or has a family member living with a heart condition can join here: www.facebook.com/groups/heartsupportnetwork/

The Irish Heart Foundation runs 21 stroke support groups and 5 heart failure groups around the country. All these groups have moved to telephone and online support. For more information, see https://irishheart.ie/get-support/.

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activity blood pressure cholesterol heart disease physical activity walking

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