Work in the way of sporting life
More people are playing sport regularly but work is preventing many from working out, a survey has found.
Basketball was the most popular sport last year, jumping from third place in 1997, followed by swimming, the government poll showed.
Badminton - the most popular sport in 1997 - fell to third place.
Fifty-four per cent of the adult population regularly played at least one sport throughout last year, up from 50 per cent in 1997.
But lack of time and heavy workloads were increasingly cited as reasons why some people never took part in activities, with 10 per cent more people in the latest survey saying work prevented them from exercising.
The most active sector of society remained students.
Among those working, people who played the least sport were production workers followed by clerical and service workers. Professionals tended to be the most active.
About one-fifth of those who played sport participated every day.
Fifteen per cent did so three to five times a week and 65 per cent twice a week to once a month.
The survey of 2,652 people was conducted by the Sports Development Board, the Government's funding body that distributes grants to sporting federations and clubs.
People aged 65 and over were just a fraction less regular in their exercise than young people, with 58 per cent of them playing sport - usually walking or wushu.
The most inactive group were people aged between 35 and 44. Only 43 per cent participated.
A board spokesman said the elderly were 'quite different' from elderly people overseas.
'After people retire they may want to do something good for themselves. The common belief is that they need to work out to keep their body in a better state,' he said.
The survey found that morning exercise was 'very popular' among the elderly and recommended further study of its role in the elderly subculture and related socio-economic factors.