Irish children are increasingly inactive and eating less healthily - more exercise will positively impact on nation's future health.
The Irish Rugby Football Union and Vhi Healthcare have just launched the Fit for Fun' Programme. This unique programme will assist primary schools in encouraging children to be more active and to embrace healthier lifestyles by benchmarking fitness and monitoring progress achieved after six weeks.
The consumption of fast food and lack of physical activity are contributing factors to many various health problems that can be experienced in later life such as heart disease and diabetes. Recently in one Dublin hospital alone there were more than 100 obese children being treated for a range of disorders all caused by poor diet and lack of exercise.
The IRFU/Vhi Healthcare Fit for Fun' programme targets boys and girls during their most formative years to show them the clear benefits of exercise and health eating.
Commenting on the programme, Mr. Andy Crawford, IRFU Junior Vice President, said: "Young children have many distractions in their lives, which sometimes means that physical exercise comes last in their priorities. This programme aims to reverse this process and ensure that regular exercise is also part of their daily routine. Through close co-operation with Vhi Healthcare, the programme has been designed to ensure that all children are catered for to build their awareness of a healthier lifestyle."
Dr. Bernadette Carr, Medical Director Vhi Healthcare said, "Childhood obesity in Ireland is a time bomb storing up problems for future healthcare. A recent study shows that on average Irish schoolchildren are becoming increasingly overweight and inactive. Children are now consuming 50% less fresh fruit and
This fitness programme concentrates on skill development. A series of ABC's (Agility, Balance, Co-ordination and Speed) together with challenges and activities are outlined in the programme. Teacher handbooks provide a rationale on this fitness development approach. Exercises include fun activities such as crossing the snake pit, Boot up, Knees up, frog hopping, the ejector seat, pushing the truck, putting on your trousers and many more!
A key component to the programme will be two branded vans, which will be travelling throughout the country to the schools with IRFU/Vhi Healthcare fitness trainers. The trainers will test the children's fitness initially and instruct teachers and children on elements of the programme.
Educational material will be given to each child in the school and will include an exercise/lifestyle full colour poster and a series of exercise cards. A wall scale' for the classroom to measure vertical jumping and a teachers' activity guide will be provided to the school. The fitness trainers will return six weeks later to monitor progress and benchmark the fitness levels achieved together with giving completion certificates to the children.
This programme will commence on a phased basis and will spread to other schools in all areas of Dublin and around the country over a three-year period.
Further information on the fitness programme visit: www.vhi.ie