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500,000 targeted by national activity plan

21 Jan 2016

Pictured (l-r) at the launch of the National Physical Activity Plan at Ballybough Community, Youth & Fitness Centre, Dublin 3 were: Minister of State for Tourism and Sport Michael Ring; Paralympian Cathal Miller; Minister for Health Dr Leo Varadkar; Ciara Doogan, Member of Irish Cycling Team; and Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport Paschal Donohoe
Pic: Conor McCabe Photography.

The Government has launched Ireland’s first National Physical Activity Plan, which aims to get at least half a million more Irish people taking regular exercise within 10 years. The key target is to increase the number of people taking regular exercise by 1 per cent a year over 10 years — that’s around 50,000 people per year, or half a million individuals in total.

Currently, it is estimated that seven out of 10 adults don’t get enough exercise.

At least €5.5 million in funding across three Government Departments has been ring-fenced to implement the plan in 2016, comprising sports measures, Healthy Ireland initiatives, Sport Ireland programme funding, and education projects.

Key features include support for 500 new community walking groups and an extension of the Active School Flag Programme to 500 more schools. Health professionals will also get further training on using physical activity to prevent or treat chronic conditions.

There will also be a push to get employers to encourage Healthy Workplace initiatives through walking and exercise activities, standing desks and other measures. A new school subject called ‘Wellbeing’ will be launched next September as part of the new Junior Cycle to include Physical Education.

An implementation group will now be set up led jointly by the Departments of Health and Transport, Tourism and Sport. The entire plan will be assessed against its targets after three years.

Co-chair of the RCPI Policy Group on Activity, Dr Peter Wright, welcomed the move, stating that this was a crucial step in reducing chronic disease in Ireland. “Currently in Ireland one-in-four children is unfit, overweight or obese and only 32 per cent of adults are meeting the national physical activity recommendations.”

Gary Culliton

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times