Schools’ Fitness Challenge

42% of parents wrongly believe their child gets their recommended level of physical activity at school

Leitrim Observer reporter

Reporter:

Leitrim Observer reporter

42% of parents wrongly believe their child gets their recommended level of physical activity at school

90% of secondary schools provide less than two hours of physical education per student each week.

New national research from Irish Life Health has revealed that 42% of parents in Ireland wrongly believe that their child gets enough physical activity during their school day. However, 90% of secondary schools provide less than two hours of physical education per student each week.

With seven hours physical activity required weekly – as a minimum – the majority of parents (58%) admit they are finding it difficult to provide the additional five hours of physical activity beyond that provided in schools. This new research underpins the launch of the 2017 Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge, which has been developed in collaboration with Prof. Niall Moyna in the Centre for Preventive Medicine, Dublin City University (DCU) and aims to help secondary school students adopt a healthier lifestyle by becoming more physically active.

The national survey of parents also revealed that only 6% of parents believe PE is the most important subject taught in schools, with a huge majority (76%) prioritising more traditional subjects such as English, Maths or Science as the most important subject taught to their children. Additionally, a massive 98% of parents admit their school-age children have screen time every day.

Irish Life Health also conducted a survey with over 70 PE teachers and a massive 82% say the curriculum needs to be changed. More than half of PE teachers said that they are frustrated with the syllabus, with a further 58% stating that it isn’t fit for purpose.

Now in its sixth year, the Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge has been developed to showcase to students the impact a simple six-week fitness challenge can have on their fitness levels. Last year alone, over a quarter of Irish secondary schools participated, and this year Irish Life Health is offering all schools who register the chance to win a training session with Thomas Barr for their school.

Furthermore, the research found that almost two thirds (63%) of parents say their daughters’ physical activity levels already started reducing by their first year of secondary school and almost half (47%) of parents say their child does not participate in after-school sports.

Irish Olympian and Irish Life Health Ambassador, Thomas Barr said, “Exercising benefits your physical health, as well as your mental wellbeing. I’ve always used my athletics as a break from studying - nothing cleared my head like getting out for a training session with my friends.

It’s so important that teenagers start exercising now and have fun doing it, to ensure that healthy lifestyle habits are established early on and the Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge is a great place to start. I would encourage PE teachers nationally to register their students.”

Registration is now open for the Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge and is open to all secondary school students around the country.

The annual Schools’ Fitness Challenge, brought to you by Irish Life Health, has had a huge total of 126,162 secondary school students taking part since 2012.

PE teachers across the country can register for the Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge at www.irishlifehealth.ie/ fitnesschallenge/ before 22nd September.