Taoiseach Walking to Fitness

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was in his local constituency at the Sport Ireland National Sports Campus yesterday for the launch of the new Get Ireland Walking Strategy and Action Plan 2017-2020.

Get Ireland Walking is a Sport Ireland initiative, supported by Healthy Ireland and delivered by Mountaineering Ireland. It seeks to establish a vibrant culture of walking in Ireland by encouraging widespread participation in walking, promoting the benefits of walking and unifying the efforts of all organisations and agencies interested in promoting walking for recreation, transport and health in Ireland.

Get Ireland Walking promotes recreational walking to all members of society regardless of age, location or ability.

The new Strategy and Action Plan outline actions across seven themes designed to complement each other a provide a multifaceted approach to increasing recreational walking. They are:

  • Public awareness,
  • Education and communication,
  • Children and young people,
  • Health,
  • Environment,
  • Communities,
  • Research,
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Partnerships.

“Creating a healthier Ireland is a priority for my Government,” said Varadkar who developed an understanding of the benefits of sport and health through minitsreial terms in the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and then Health.

“With these new investments we can help more people, more families and more communities to look after their own health and wellbeing.”

“We are supporting three core areas of physical activity, preventing obesity, and creating a tobacco-free society. By working with schools, communities and State bodies, we are joining the dots to ensure that the benefits of Healthy Ireland are felt at local level.”

“I am delighted to see the launch of Get Ireland Walking’s Strategy and Action Plan today,” added John Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland.

“Get Ireland Walking was established in 2013 and aims to promote a culture of walking throughout Ireland. The health benefits of walking, both physical and mental, cannot be underestimated. The strategy outlines actions across seven important themes, which will work to promote a healthier Ireland.”

Walking is the most popular form of physical activity in Ireland. The 2015 Irish Sports Monitor, which surveyed over 8,500 respondents, found that 64.8% took part in recreational walking, nearly five times as many participants as personal exercise, which was the most popular sporting activity.

Recreational walking is a low impact activity that can provide significant health benefits. The National Physical Activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate or vigorous physical activity i.e. five thirty minute sessions. However, any amount of physical activity can provide benefits. Recreational walking is the ideal activity for participants new to physical activity or those who are already active but may not be meeting the guidelines.

“Get Ireland Walking’s Strategy and Action Plan offers a clear vision in promoting walking across Ireland,” said Minister for Health Simon Harris.

“In addition to this, the forty-one actions within the plan also reflect areas of Ireland’s National Physical Activity Plan.”

“Together Get Ireland Walking and its partner organisations will work to empower communities and individuals to lead a healthier lifestyle. This form of inter-organisation partnership is vital for success and we look forward to working with our partners in the future”.

Sport Ireland are among the more than 220 organisations that play an active part of the Sport for Business community.  

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Image Credit Morgan treacy Inpho

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