Prosperous, middle aged more sports minded

July 26th, 2008 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 26 (IANS) Prosperous, white and middle aged people are the most likely to be sports minded, according to a 10-year study. The gap between rich and poor, and black and white, appears to have widened over the past decade, as overall participation in sports has actually increased, it said.

The findings are based on data from several annual health surveys for Britain between 1997 and 2006. The entire sample comprised 61,000 adults, just under half of whom (27,217) were men.

In 2006, men were around 10 percent more likely, and women around 20 percent more likely to participate regularly in sports compared with the figures for 1997.

This suggests that the perception of a much talked about overall decline in sporting activities may be “oversimplistic,” said the authors.

The increase is mainly attributable to gym and fitness activities, with both sexes around 20 percent more likely to participate in them than they were in 1997.

The proportion of regular female runners/joggers also doubled to four percent over the decade.

But the increases in sports participation was largely restricted to middle aged and older people with clear increasing trends seen among both sexes over the age of 45 upwards, and among 30 to 44 year old women.

And the proportion of younger men under 30 taking part in cycling, dancing, and racquet sports fell sharply.

Excess weight was a deterrent for both sexes, while higher household income, car ownership, higher social class, and general good health were positively associated with taking part in sports.

Ethnicity was also an issue, with fewer participants from black or Asian backgrounds.

The authors concluded that the decline in sporting activity among younger people is a cause for concern.

These findings were published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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