The Health Survey for England between 1997 and 2006 said that with the overall participation in sports on a rise, the gap between rich and poor, and black and white, has actually widened, instead of narrowing in a decade.
The findings have been drawn from a nationally representative sample of households that 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.
The authors said that this reflected that the perception of a much talked about overall decline in sporting activities may be "oversimplistic."
However, the increases in sports participation was mainly limited to middle aged and older people, what with clear increasing trends seen among both sexes over the age of 45 upwards, and among 30 to 44 year old women.
On the other hand, the proportion of younger men under 30 taking part in cycling, dancing, and racquet sports fell sharply.
While excess weight did pose a problem for both sexes, higher household income, car ownership, higher social class, and general good health were positively associated with taking part in sports.
Another main issue was ethnicity, with fewer participants from black or Asian backgrounds.
The authors concluded that the decline in sporting activity among younger people requires close concern.
"Another cause for concern is that there are no signs that the gap between high and low socioeconomic groups and white and non-white ethnic groups is narrowing," they added.
The study was published ahead of print in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.