DUBLIN — Ireland’s recent third pandemic lockdown led to an increase in “recreational walking,” according to Sport Ireland, a government body, with the usual mist-laced winter gales blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean proving no deterrent to a population otherwise told to stay at home for months on end.
The report said “overall levels of physical activity have increased on 2019 figures,” with the percentage of Irish adults “walking for recreation” climbing from 65 per cent before the pandemic to 76 per cent during the first quarter of 2021, slightly below the high reported during Ireland’s first lockdown last year.
“Running and cycling experienced similar fluxes,” according to Sport Ireland, with the early 2021 step-up in numbers coming “despite a decrease in organised sport participation.”
The lockdowns required people to mostly remain within five kilometres of home, another limit that seemingly did not deter walkers.
Ireland’s on-off lockdowns have included bans on competitive sports, except for those deemed by the government as “elite,” a classification was changed between the second and third lockdowns.
“We are happy to see the return of some sports this month,” said Sport Ireland chief executive John Treacy, the 1984 Olympic marathon silver medallist, after the third lockdown ended on Monday after almost five months.
As well as allowing outdoor training in groups of up to 15, Monday’s easing saw all domestic travel curbs dropped, in-person religious services allowed again and the reopening of some non-essential retail.
Allied Irish Banks said on Tuesday that hotel spending jumped by 30 per cent last month after the government announced a provisional end-of-lockdown schedule.Show