Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge launched to support Ireland’s PE Teachers in Kick-starting Change

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Leitrim Sport

Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge launched to support Ireland’s PE Teachers in Kick-starting Change

Olympic 400m Hurdle Final 4th placer Thomas Barr is supporting the Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge

Irish Life Health have launched the 2016 Schools’ Fitness Challenge, encouraging PE teachers and secondary school students across the country to take positive steps in improving their fitness levels.

Leading the call to action is Professor Niall Moyna, Head of the School of Health and Human Performance at DCU, who last week revealed results from an in-depth study of ‘low fit’ transition year boys, showing worrying insights such as insulin resistance in 62%, and a huge majority of 85% already displaying high blood pressure.

The study group of 15-year-old ‘low-fit’ transition year boys spent an average of 68% of their day sitting down, and Professor Moyna is asking parents, teachers and students themselves to take ownership of healthy lifestyle changes and to take positive steps to increase physical activity levels.

“Previously we have seen studies that show increased risk factors of heart disease for ‘low fit’ children, but we now know students actually already have heart disease, at just 15 years of age.” Professor Moyna said.

Professor Moyna continued: “Every school around the country has unfit children, but the good news is that every school has a free lifestyle drug that can cure it – exercise! Today we are asking PE teachers and their students to get involved with the Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge to encourage healthy behaviours.”

Jim Dowdall, Managing Director at Irish Life Health said: “We want to highlight the hugely valuable contribution that PE teachers are already making to students’ physical and mental wellbeing by encouraging them to be more active. We see the Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge as another positive way to kick-start student’s levels of physical activity and we are really proud to be driving this initiative.”

Olympian Thomas Barr believes small steps are the way to go in improving fitness levels - “The Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge is a great way to show how simple steps to improving fitness can have an impact after only six weeks. I would encourage PE teachers nationally to register their students and to continue to measure student’s progress as a way to encourage and inspire them.”

Cork camogie star Ashling Thompson called students of all fitness levels to get involved - “Being active is not just for those students who consider themselves ‘sporty’, or who are part of a sports team. Being active has great benefits both to mental and physical wellbeing, and the Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge is a great way to take small steps to leading a more active lifestyle.”

Registration opened today for the Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge, encouraging PE teachers to sign their students up for the six-week fitness challenge. The Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge is open to all secondary school students around the country.

The annual Schools’ Fitness Challenge, brought to you by Irish Life Health, is now in its fifth year, and 60,000 students have already taken part in the Challenge.

PE teachers across the country can register for the Irish Life Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge at www.irishlifehealth.ie/fitnesschallenge/ before September 30.