Saturday 1 October 2016

Leo's 'get off the couch' plan to get us moving

Published 14/01/2016 | 02:30

Minister Leo Varadkar and Dr Tadhg Crowley at the launch. Photo: Arthur Carron
Minister Leo Varadkar and Dr Tadhg Crowley at the launch. Photo: Arthur Carron

Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who will launch a new plan today to get the nation off the couch and start exercising, is promising more cycle routes and parks in town planning.

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Mr Varadkar, who himself jogs and works out, needs to motivate huge numbers of sedentary adults and children amid worrying findings that only one third of the population is sufficiently active.

The plan will include support for 500 new community walking groups.

The Active School Flag Programme will be extended to another 500 schools where they are encouraged to begin self-evaluating their levels of physical activity.

Healthy lifestyles will be promoted more in primary and secondary schools. Physical activity will be used as an educational tool, especially at primary level. And teachers will get a professional development support service on physical activity for the first time. The plan is to improve walking and cycling in each local area and incorporate exercise, cycle routes and parks into town planning.

The getirelandactive.ie website will be expanded as a one-stop-shop for physical activity, including a public database of national sports and recreation facilities.

Physical activity will be incorporated into long-term care planning and practice in the health and social services.

The exercise guidelines for children aged between two and 18 is that they should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day.

This should include muscle-strengthening, flexibility and bone-strengthening exercises three times a week.

Adults aged 18 to 64 should be active for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on five days a week - or a total of 150 minutes a week.

Seniors will also be targeted. People over 65 should be active for at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity on five days a week, or 150 minutes a week.

They should focus on aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and balance.

For adults with disabilities, the recommendation is that they should be as active as their ability allows.

The aim is to meet adult guidelines of at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on five days a week.

The Government's Healthy Ireland action plan showed that Irish men are more likely to be active than women. Around 40pc of men are active compared with 24pc of women.

Half of women aged 55 and over undertake low levels of activity or none at all, compared with 38pc of men of the same age. People are less likely to be highly active as they age.

Irish Independent

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