Dublin Senator Catherine Noone has today (Thursday) called for compulsory fitness testing to be introduced in all schools.
Research has shown that almost 90% of Irish children in the 10-18 age group are insufficiently active whilst one in four are overweight or obese.
Only 12 % of 10-18 year olds in Ireland meeting the Department of Health and Children’s physical activity recommendations of at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
These rates of physical inactivity among our children are a ticking time bomb and could lead to ‘generation inactive’ becoming a huge drain on our Health service in years to come. The alarming reality is that many Irish children are on course to develop chronic conditions associated with inactivity ranging from diabetes to cancers.
According to research in the UK, an inactive person spends 37 % more days in hospital. Inactive people are also significantly more likely to suffer from depression, and dementia than physically active adults.
Currently, there is little or no discussion regarding the role of assessment and fitness evaluation among school-going children in Ireland – this needs to change.
Primary schools should test pupils’ fitness in the same way as subjects like Maths and English to stem the tide of physical inactivity threatening to overwhelm our Health service.
Research conducted by Aviva Health revealed that 90% of teachers recognise that regular physical activity impacts positively on student’s academic performance, leading to a marked improvement in concentration, motivation, alertness and an overall healthy mind.
It is vital we set children on the right trajectory from an early age and as such I am now calling on the Minister for Education to set national, age- appropriate fitness levels in children, and for the fitness levels of secondary school students to be routinely assessed, like other examinable subjects, as part of the curriculum.