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Lack of exercise a big factor in poor health levels

4th February 2011

Lack of exercise a big factor in poor health levels
By Noel Baker

Friday, February 04, 2011

IRELAND’S crumbling health levels are down to a chronic lack of exercise across swathes of the population, a study has found.
According to experts led by members of the School of Health and Human Performance at Dublin City University:

* Just one-in-10 secondary school children receive the Department of Education recommended 120 minutes of physical exercise a week.

* 75% of adults and 80% of children do not meet the guidelines for maintaining and improving current and future health.

* Lack of physical exercise is the cause of 15% to 21% of breast cancers, 27% of diabetes cases and 30% of ischaemic heart disease.

The expert group, which also featured contributions from academics at the University of Limerick, Waterford Institute of Technology and the University of Ulster, found that a national plan to improve activity and exercise levels could save the state up to €135 million a year.

It proposes a new National Physical Activity Plan which it believes should be high on the agenda of the next government.

Dr Catherine Woods, the head of the School of Health at DCU, said: "Physical inactivity is a serious national issue which can no longer be ignored.

"All our research has identified a number of disturbing statistics on physical activity in Ireland’s children and adults, the consequences of which are serious both on an individual basis and in terms of the burden it places on Ireland’s health system.

"A national plan would improve considerably the functional capacity, health and well-being of the population and would save significantly on public expenditure," she said.

Ahead of the election the campaign is asking parties a number of questions, including ‘Will your party prioritise a Healthier Ireland?’ and ‘Will your party prioritise an inclusive Ireland?’.

Campaigners want a national physical activity action plan to form part of any new Programme for Government, and stressed that promoting physical activity should be seen as a necessity, not a luxury.

The group also stressed a number of key principles to the formation of any national physical activity plan, including taking a population health approach, engaging multiple sectors and basing programmes on the stated needs of the population.

 

This appeared in the printed version of the Irish Examiner Friday, February 04, 2011

 

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