Aviva Health launches a Schools' Fitness Challenge
Research shows one quarter of Irish children have risk factors for heart disease
Aviva Health launches a Schools’ Fitness Challenge – a national fitness challenge to highlight the importance of implementing healthy lifestyle strategies at an early age
Dublin, Mon, 7th January 2013: Aviva Health Insurance today launched the Schools’ Fitness Challenge 2013 – a national challenge for 1st and 2nd year pupils to improve their health and fitness. Recent research shows that one quarter or 25% of school-going children in Ireland have risk factors for heart disease, such as poor aerobic fitness levels, being overweight or obese and having high blood pressure.
Children in Ireland are worryingly inactive according to exercise physiologist and advocate of the national challenge, Dr. Sarah Kelly, who says that the majority (86%) of school-going children spend more than two hours daily, sitting viewing TV, videos or playing on the computer. This means almost 9 out of 10 Irish children are insufficiently active to benefit their current or future health.
“Only 12% of 10-18 year olds in Ireland are meeting the Department of Health and Children physical activity recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Girls are less likely than boys to meet the physical activity guidelines, and the amount of time being dedicated to physical activity every week, typically one hour, is totally inadequate.”
Aviva Health’s Schools’ Fitness Challenge 2013 is an initiative developed by Dublin City University in conjunction with the Wellness Economic Initiative Alliance. It is a unique initiative that aims to make physical fitness among school-going children a national priority by creating awareness about the issue.
Fitness is one of the best indicators of a person’s overall health and a high level of fitness reduces the risk for major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, osteoporosis and diabetes. Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of men and women in Ireland and the EU. Research shows that 25% of Irish children have risk factors of heart disease.
Dr Kelly said, “The fact that there is a significant period of time between the development of cardiovascular disease in childhood and the occurrence of clinical events such as heart attacks and strokes, in adulthood, emphasises the importance of implementing appropriate lifestyle strategies at an early age.”
All-Ireland winning captain of the Dublin senior football team, Bryan Cullen, Paul Flynn current GAA football All-Star and Meath senior football captain and PE teacher at Colaiste Na Hinse, Meath VEC, Kevin Reilly, were at the launch to drive home the message to school children across Ireland that exercising when you’re young sets you up for life.
Bryan said, “Sport and fitness has always been part of my life, but I wouldn’t be where I am today unless I had exercised as a child. For me, being active when I was younger contributed enormously to my ability to play Gaelic football at intercounty level today. I am incredibly grateful to the coaches and teachers who placed an emphasis on physical fitness. I encourage all secondary schools across the country to sign up to Aviva Health’s Schools’ Fitness Challenge 2013.”
Secondary schools interested in participating in the national challenge are being encouraged to register online at www.avivahealth.ie/fitnesschallenge by Friday, 18th January to receive a registration pack with the fitness test audio on CD, and step-by-step guidelines of how to complete the programme successfully.
Kevin Reilly, PE Teacher at Colaiste Na Hinse, Meath VEC, says, “In my view Physical Education is critically important to the future health of every child, and should be prioritised and viewed as a subject as important as any academic subject like Maths and Science. Children need to recognise the importance of being regularly active at a young age and carry that fitness behaviour through to adulthood for the benefit of their future health.”
Dr. Kelly believes that exercise is medicine, she states that “In addition to the enormous physical benefits we get from exercise, it can have a positive effect on mental health and academic performance, reduce rule-breaking behaviour, improve attention span and classroom behaviour, and can play a significant role in the enrichment of a child’s social life and development of social interaction skills.”
“Team sports are a great way to build up your fitness, but to be physically active doesn’t necessarily mean you have to play a team sport. Walking, skateboarding, dancing, swimming and even playing your Nintendo Wii are all great ways of keeping active and getting fit.”
As part of the Schools Fitness Challenge, Aviva is working with relevant bodies, such as the Wellness Economic Initiative Alliance and the Centre for Preventive Medicine, Dublin City University to promote physical activity and fitness in school-going children.
The challenge will be monitored by Dr. Sarah Kelly and challenge creator, exercise physiologist, Prof. Niall Moyna from the Centre for Preventive Medicine in DCU.
Alison Burns, Managing Director at Aviva Health Insurance, “We are incredibly proud to support Aviva Health’s Schools’ Fitness Challenge, which we hope will contribute to our long-term strategy of improving the health of our children in Ireland and future generations.”
Aviva Health’s Schools’ Fitness Challenge 2013 is calling on all secondary schools, parents and teachers across the country today to register their interest in the national fitness challenge online at www.avivahealth.ie/fitnesschallenge by the closing date, Friday, 18th January.
For media contact or more information:
Iris Cribbin, Fleishman-Hillard, Tel: 01 618 8439, Mob: 087 414 2881
Lydia Tierney, Fleishman-Hillard, Tel: 01 618 8459, Mob: 085 713 8810
Notes to the Editor
Aviva Health’s Schools’ Fitness Challenge 2013
Launch of the challenge
7th January 2013
Schools to register their interest
By 18th January 2013
Week One of training begins
Week commencing 28th January 2013
Schools to input results of initial beep test online
By 1st February 2013
End of six week training programme
8th March 2013
Final tests results to be uploaded online
By 22nd March 2013
Announcement of final results
Week commencing 8th April
There are eight different prizes categories:
Ireland’s Fittest Girl’s School / Ireland’s Fittest Boy’s School / Ireland’s Fittest Mixed School will each win sports equipment of their choice for their school to the value of €500 from Elvery’s Sports
Ireland’s Fittest School Overall will win an additional €500 worth of sports equipment of their choice for their school (total value of €1000) in total from Elvery’s Sports
Ireland’s Most Improved Girl’s School / Ireland’s Most Improved Boys School / Ireland’s Most Improved Mixed School will each win sports equipment of their choice for their school to the value of €500 from Elvery’s Sports
Ireland’s Most Improved School Overall will win an additional €500 worth of sports equipment of their choice for their school (total value of €1000) from Elvery’s Sports
Prizes will include sports equipment for your school as well as a perpetual cup for the overall winner and trophies for the runner up schools.
About Aviva Health Insurance Ireland Ltd
Aviva Health Insurance Ireland Limited is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
Wellness Economic Initiative Alliance
This newly formed Wellness Alliance will be legally incorporated in early 2013. Its Vision; an Ireland in which Wellness is a core value at individual, community and national levels. The Mission is to identify, develop and deliver targeted Wellness economic initiatives in Ireland, but with a global potential. This is on a basis which is collaborative, inclusive, measurable, and sustainable. The Goal is transformative long term behavioural change in Health utilising the latest ITC technologies, new applications and an incentivised economic model to support this objective.
1 Woods, C.B., Tannehill D., Quinlan, A., Moyna, N. and Walsh, J. (2010). The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study (CSPPA). Research Report No 1. School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University and the Irish Sports Council, Dublin, Ireland. (page 2 in CSPPA report)
2 Woods, C.B., Tannehill D., Quinlan, A., Moyna, N. and Walsh, J. (2010). The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study (CSPPA). Research Report No 1. School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University and the Irish Sports Council, Dublin, Ireland. (page 14 in CSPPA report)
3 Woods, C.B., Tannehill D., Quinlan, A., Moyna, N. and Walsh, J. (2010). The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study (CSPPA). Research Report No 1. School of Health and Human Performance, Dublin City University and the Irish Sports Council, Dublin, Ireland. (page 15 in CSPPA report).
*Ambassadors received a gratuity for their involvement with Aviva Health’s Schools’ Fitness Challenge