Press Release

Nation urged to “let it go … just for 30 minutes”

New Physical Activity Campaign targets sedentary lifestyles

In response to the growing levels of inactivity, obesity and sedentary lifestyles in Ireland, Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin TD, today (15th July) launched a campaign to redress the trends that are impacting on the general health of the nation. Let it Go, Just for 30 Minutes is a new physical activity campaign, organised by the Health Promotion Unit and aimed at the 50 per cent of the population that does not engage in any form of regular physical activity.

Minister Martin said; “Inactivity damages health and is a serious risk to heart health. Despite these dangers and the evidence that most people are aware that being active is good for health and well being, over half the population remains largely inactive”.

“We need to think seriously about the consequences of inactivity. Heart disease, weak bones, obesity, diabetes and poor muscle development are just some of the conditions that can arise from leading a sedentary lifestyle. These issues cannot be taken lightly and this campaign proposes to address the growing problem in Ireland, which to an extent, is a symptom of current lifestyles”.

“Let me put the ethos of this campaign quite simply, we all need to be regularly active if we are to lead longer, healthier lives and reduce the threat of health risks such as heart disease and stroke.”

The lifestyle trend in Ireland was identified in the recent National Health & Lifestyle Surveys (SLAN), which found that only 51% of the population reported engaging in some form of regular physical activity. In addition, obesity was identified as a growing problem, affecting 13% of the population and almost half the population reported being overweight.

The Campaign will be launched in two phases. The first, from today, will feature a series of TV and poster advertisements depicting every day events, such as watching TV or playing computer games. The strapline Let it Go, Just for 30 Minutes, is aimed at impressing upon the Irish population the need for regular activity – at least 30 minutes for adults – most days of the week.

The second phase, in October, will see the launch of a number of national and local initiatives, aimed at encouraging consumers to get active and demonstrating, through practical measures, the benefits that can be obtained from all levels of activity.

In addition, activity will focus on the distribution of materials such as leaflets and posters; media promotions; retail promotions and discounts; media announcements and events in which people can participate.

The Minister was keen to highlight that the campaign is all-inclusive and said that even people who have never before been active, can start by setting goals for themselves and introducing a little activity into their lifestyles, day by day.

Being active does not necessarily equate to going to the gym or running a marathon. Everyone can be active and all activity counts. Adults need to be active for at least 30 minutes, most days of the week, but the 30 minutes can be worked up over the course of a day. Walking, using the stairs instead of a lift, putting extra energy into household chores or playing with the children; all these activities are important, can help make up the daily recommendation of 30 minutes and will ultimately assist in the reduction of sedentary lifestyles.

The Minister highlighted research from the World Health Report, which estimates that overweight and obesity in Europe can be attributed to around 8% of deaths and disability. In addition, the World Health Organisation estimates that these conditions can also be attributed to the incidence of between one quarter and one half of cardiovascular disease.

US research found that 75% of all trips, of less than one mile, are done by car; 1 in 3 US adults are obese and 1 in 2 US adults are overweight. In the US, obesity levels have risen by 10% but experts are not necessarily attributing this rise to an increase in the consumption of high fat foods and larger portions. The correlation between the increase in obesity appears to be as a direct result of the low levels of activity in the US, which have fallen by 13% over a ten-year period.

The World Health Organisation states that sedentary lifestyle is a major underlying cause of death, disease and disability. Approximately 2 million worldwide deaths annually are attributable to physical inactivity.