The ‘Every Step Counts’ Irish Life GAA Healthy Club Steps Challenge that finished last month saw 28,600 GAA members from 690 clubs walk a combined total of five million kilometres over the space of five weeks.

With every step once again tracked through Irish Life’s MyLife App, the distance covered is the equivalent of walking all the way to the moon and back five times; a combined step count of seven billion.

Each participant walked an average of almost 190 kilometres in the five weeks.

“The fact that we have had 28,600 people engaging from almost 700 clubs is phenomenal, said DCU Professor Niall Moyna.

“The impact this will have on public health is incalculable. It’s not just the acute effect that participants get from engaging in that bout of activity – but the long-term effects are absolutely astronomical.”

“It will reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, from many forms of cancer and will reduce their likelihood that they will become obese or will assist them in losing weight as well.”

The challenge was the third delivered during the pandemic through the award-winning Irish Life GAA Healthy Club Project and has proven itself as a popular way to motivate the community to get active while also connecting the participants in a fun and healthy way.

The first challenge in June 2020 attracted 12,000 participants from over 400 clubs, with the MyLife App tracking all 2.2 billion steps taken. Last year Every Step Counts Challenge in January saw 28,100 participants from over 600 clubs track an average of 4km per day. This year’s 28,600 participants have increased their average distance to an impressive 5.2 kilometres daily.

“The Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs Steps Challenge provides clubs with a healthy and fun way to keep physically active and connected during the dark winter months,” said GAA President Larry McCarthy.

“It has also helped motivate thousands of participants to achieve their recommended weekly physical activity levels. It is one of our most popular community initiatives and its enabling of physical, mental, and social health couldn’t be more timely.”

“Research has shown the importance of having a sense of belonging to a community and making a contribution to society,” added Head of Health and Wellbeing at Irish Life, Stacey Machesney.

“That sense of inclusion is as important to one’s wellbeing as physical and mental health. Over the course of the pandemic MyLife has been successful in providing this with the GAA community and our customers. We look forward to continuing this as we move through the next phase of coming out of lockdown.”