Athletics Ireland have released research on the importance of the Daily Mile in the health and wellbeing of primary school children.

According to the new research, teachers see The Daily Mile as an essential part of the school day, with 77 per cent of primary school teachers stating that it has a positive impact on the attentiveness and concentrations levels of children throughout the school day.

Within only 18 months of its launch in Ireland at the end of 2018, two-thirds of those taking part now believe it to be an essential part of the school day.

The findings were released yesterday marking the 66th anniversary of Roger Bannister running the first sub four-minute mile.

Over 200,000 primary school children were taking part in 15 minutes of daily exercise up until the recent school closures as a result of Covid-19 but a Daily Mile at Home programme has encourage many to keep it up as part of homeschooling.

“The Daily Mile movement really is something special, and it’s great to have partners who are so passionate about improving the health and well-being of the children of Ireland,” said Hamish Adams, CEO of Athletics Ireland.

“The success and rapid growth which we’ve seen since it was launch in late 2018 could not have been achieved without the backing of SPAR, INEOS, and Irish Life Health.”

“Now is the time for us to plan for when schools get back up and running again. We need to ensure that exercise is placed as a priority when it comes to formulating primary school curriculums.”

“We need to focus our attention nationally on developing physical literacy capacities and capabilities in our children and young people to help them live healthier lives, both physically and mentally.”

191 teachers from across the country took part in the research survey, and this research pointed to a range of benefits resulting from children being engaged in daily exercise.

As well as benefits to the children’s physical health, the research has also pointed to The Daily Mile as an important social interaction for children with over 85 per cent of teachers stating how The Daily Mile increases the opportunity for social interaction among children in the school.

“SPAR is passionate about promoting the importance of healthy eating and engaging in exercise, especially during these extraordinary times and it is important to continue to promote that message,” said Colin Donnelly, Sales Director of SPAR Ireland.

“Staying healthy and active is especially important at the moment and an initiative like the Daily Mile is a fabulous message to champion.”

“It is so important that we give children every opportunity to live a healthier life and we have long been advocates of the benefits of being active,” added Liz Rowen, Marketing Director at Irish Life Health.

“It’s so positive to see Sport Ireland reporting over 950,000 additional people engaged in walking or running in recent weeks, and the benefits associated with this should be something taught to everyone from an early age.”

“The Daily Mile has the potential to be that change, but we need to see it rolled out in every school across Ireland. This research has confirmed for us how important teachers view physical activity as part of the school day, and hopefully it will encourage all primary schools to get involved.”

The Daily Mile at home

A core principle of The Daily Mile is that it remains free and fully accessible to any child that would like to take part, and this doesn’t change event in light of current restrictions.

Frank Greally, The Athletics Ireland Ambassador for The Daily Mile, who has championed the initiative since its roll out over 18 months ago, is calling all students to keep up their “Daily Mile at Home” over the coming weeks and months.

He said “This research has backed up what many of us have known for some time, that this programme really works and that it needs to be rolled out in early school when things return to some form of normality. For now however, I’m calling on all primary school children to get back on the runners and get out for their daily dose of exercise. And what better time to start back then on the date that Roger Bannister led the way for so many others to follow”.

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Image Credit: Eoin Noonan, Sportsfile