Kilkenny-based Dr. Niamh Murphy, Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Health Promotion from WIT is one of Ireland’s representatives on the GoPA network.
A set of ‘Country Cards’ profiling physical activity in 217 countries has been launched by the Global Observatory for Physical Activity (GoPA!) based on data up to 2019.
The GoPA! Country card for Ireland can be found here.
Some of the main findings were:
- The research found that 4% of all deaths in Ireland could be avoided if moderate physical activity was increased
- Exercise before vaccination can boost the immune response.
- Ireland punches above its weight on physical activity promotion but we still have some way to go in getting Ireland active.
The organisation’s main goal is to reduce the global burden of mortality and morbidity caused by physical inactivity and it consists of physical activity researchers, epidemiologists, public health policymakers, and practitioners that catalogue and analyse global data on physical activity and health.
Dr Niamh Murphy said “Physical activity has often been the poor relation when it comes to resources and funding, even though its contribution to both preventing disease and enhancing wellbeing is well established. If we could get everyone in Ireland to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week we could avoid 8.4% of all deaths. The country card shows that 54% of males in Ireland meet this physical activity guideline. Only 38% of women meet the guidelines. There is a lot of scope here to increase physical activity levels,” she adds.
Dr Loughren from Sport Ireland said “With COVID-19, the value of physical activity for the health of the nation has never been clearer. There is some encouraging news from Sport Ireland research at three-time points during COVID-19 restrictions which found that in April 2020 Irish adults were reporting that they were walking for recreation at least once per week. However, there is still a socioeconomic divide with many people not yet active.”
Irish scientists working on TILDA, the National longitudinal study of ageing, have shown those who were active had improved immune responses to the flu vaccine and have now recommended regular aerobic or moderate exercise in the weeks and months prior to Covid-19 vaccination to help improve antibody responses post-vaccination in older people.
National guidelines recommend 150 minutes a week, or 30 mins/day of moderate-intensity activity.