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Although public health agencies tell us to be more active, a new report shows that only 22% of the Northern Ireland public heed that message every day.

Just as many say they never take part in physical activity.

‘Get up and go!’, by Dr Katie Liston of the University of Ulster Sports and Exercise Sciences Research Institute and Dr Paula Devine of ARK, Queen’s University Belfast, explores how we spend our leisure time.

The report is based on data from the 2009 Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, conducted by ARK at Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Ulster.

Dr Liston said: “The reasons for participation in exercise are varied, although health factors predominate. The fact that only 44 per cent of those exercising regularly say that they get a great deal of enjoyment out of this might suggest that people are exercising only because it is perceived as being ‘good for them’, although the public health messages are generally being accepted."

Dr Devine said: “Sport, exercise and physical activity are a regular feature of our lives, and overall, these are viewed quite positively. The paradox is that the build up to the 2012 Olympics will whet our appetite for sport, whilst the upcoming spending cuts are likely to affect our ability to ‘get up and go'."

The key findings of the report are:

73 per cent of respondents watched TV or DVDs every day.22 per cent of respondents took part in physical activity every day, with a further 27 per cent doing so several times a week. 19 per cent never do so.The group most likely to be physically active also had more active social networks.For males, the most popular sports were soccer (22%) and golf (11%), whilst females participated more in fitness (20%) and cycling (6%). 44 per cent of those who exercise say they get a great deal of enjoyment out of it.The vast majority of those who exercise do so for their physical or general health, while two thirds (68%) do so to meet people.Most respondents (69%) think sports bring together different groups and races in Northern Ireland. However, 37% believe international sport competitions create tension between countries. One half of respondents think Northern Ireland’s government should spend more money on sports.

This report will be the basis of a seminar to be held today Tuesday (19 October) at NICVA, Belfast.

Notes for editors:

1. Dr Katie Liston is available for interview.

2. The Get up and go! report will be available on the ARK website on 19 October 2010

3. The seminar will take place at NICVA, 61 Duncairn Gardens, Belfast at 12 noon.

4. 1228 adults took part in the Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey, which was carried out from October to December 2009.

5. Results from the 2009 Life and Times Survey are available on the website at

6. The Northern Ireland Life and Times Survey is a constituent part of ARK ‑ joint resource between Queen’s University and the University of Ulster. ARK has a single goal: to make social science information on Northern Ireland available to the widest possible audience. Core funding for ARK is provided by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as a large grant.

7. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest organisation for funding research on economic and social issues. It supports independent, high quality research which has an impact on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC’s planned total expenditure in 2009/10 is �204 million. At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and independent research institutes. More at