There's been a massive surge in the numbers of Irish people engaging in cycling and running in 2020 as the Covid-19 pandemic led to a general swell in physical activity. 

According to the annual Teneo Sport and Sponsorship Index, this year has seen a 75% increase in the number of people cycling and a 100% rise in those running.

Despite pools being closed for large parts of the year, 19% of those surveyed continue to swim, making the activity as popular as gym-going, where participation rates dropped from 29% to 19% as the sector grappled with closures and rolling lockdowns.

Running's popularity exploded with twice as many people pounding the roads this year compared to 2019. 

However walking is the nation's favourite form of exercise with 62% of the population taking regular strolls to keep fit [up from 44% last year].

There's been no change in the public's fundamental reasons for exercising, with most citing a desire to stay healthy, but there was an increase in those who said they stay active because it is good for their mental health.

Of the reasons people gave for improved fitness during Covid-19 restrictions, 58% said they had more time to exercise while 54% said that lockdown made them realise the value of exercise.

On Tuesday the Irish Government announced that the country will return to Level 5 restrictions with adjustments between Christmas Eve and 12 January.

Golf and tennis clubs, gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can remain open, but for individual training only. 

No matches or events can take place except for professional and elite sports, and horse racing and greyhound racing will be behind closed doors.