Press Release

Physical activity the way to good health say Ministers

A new publicity campaign designed to persuade Irish people to get up out of their seats and be more active was launched at a ceremony in Dublin today.

The campaign, with the slogan “get a life, get active”was launched by Health Ministers Bairbre de Brún and Micheál Martin.

Stressing that two thirds of Irish people are now at increased risk from heart disease and other serious illnesses, the Ministers said: “Most of us do not take enough exercise to protect or improve our health yet physical activity is just as important for good health as stopping smoking.”

“Health benefits from regular activity include reducing heart disease by one third, strokes by one quarter, non-insulin dependent diabetes by one quarter and hip fractures in the elderly by a half.”

The publicity campaign, originally developed by the Health Promotion Agency in the North, will form part of the Ireland needs a Change of Heart campaign in the South. This joint campaign aims to promote awareness of physical activity for good health and to encourage people to become more active in their daily lives.

Health, Social Services and Public Safety Minister Bairbre de Brún pointed out: “Research in the North shows that seven out of every ten men and eight out of ten women, do not take enough exercise to attain a health benefit.”

Minister Martin added: “It is a similar story in the South, with one in four people not taking part in any activity and six out of ten people not taking enough activity to benefit their health.”

These figures are underlined by the recent North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey which showed that on average, people of all ages spend nearly 19 hours a week watching television compared with seven hours of recreational activity and just over one hour of vigorous activity.

Levels of activity decline with increased weight and age; half of all women in the 51 to 64 age group take no part in any vigorous physical activity.

Speaking at the launch today, Ministers de Brún and Martin said: “The good news is that just half an hour’s moderate exercise on most days of the week can bring real health benefits.”

The other message from the campaign is that exercise need not involve long hours at the gym. Plenty of routine activities can be counted as physical activity such as brisk walking, washing the car, gardening, or even dancing.

“The key for all of us is to explore ways in which we can turn some of our everyday tasks, including those we enjoy, into regular activity. Just 30 minutes a day on most days of the week could really improve our health,” said Minister de Brún.

This is the first major initiative by the Department of Health and Children to promote the health benefits of physical activity in the south.

Commending the campaign´s messages to everyone in Ireland, Minister de Brún said: “It is important that everyone in Ireland takes this message, literally, to heart, and builds some form of activity into their daily routine.”

Minister Martin said: “The “get a life, get active”campaign provides another excellent opportunity for both Health departments to work together to bring better health benefits to all the people of the island.