Sunday 1 February 2015

Farmers in 'good' health despite a lack of exercise

It should be one of the healthiest jobs, but Irish farmers are not doing enough exercise.

That's the conclusion of a study which looked at the health of Irish farmers and found only one in two were involved in physical activity in their leisure time.

This figure of 50pc among farmers compared with 81pc for the general population, research carried out by UCD and Teagasc found.

The study set out to find the nature and prevalence of health problems, self-reported health status, health service utilisation and leisure time physical activity participation of the farmers.

A questionnaire was distributed to farmers at Teagasc events and 600 were chosen to represent those involved in dairy, cattle rearing, sheep and arable.

Of the 600 farmers, 61pc had experienced a significant health problem in the previous year, the most common being musculoskeletal disorders which can affect the body's muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and nerves.

They also included respiratory problems, digestive difficulties, ear diseases and mental health concerns.

A majority (80pc) of farmers considered their health to be "very good" or "good" while one per cent said it was poor.

Farmers rating their health as 'good' were significantly younger than those with a 'poor' health rating, findings presented to the winter meeting of the Royal College of Physicians showed.

"In the previous year, 58pc of farmers had attended their GP compared with 74pc of the population generally," the researchers said.

They added that although the majority of farmers believe their health is good, strategies to promote better musculoskeletal health and greater exercise participation are required.

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