The tireless efforts of local sporting organisations have contributed significantly to the fact that there has been a steady increase in the number of older people becoming active, according to a local sports official.
Michael Curley, the co-ordinator of Galway Sports Partnership, says it is great to see the numbers of older people meeting the National Physical Activity Guidelines.
“These changes are in no small part a testimony to the work of the many sporting organisations including the Local Sports Partnership who continue to direct and focus their efforts towards inactive groups. The challenge now is to maintain the good work and keep Ireland active.”
His comments came in the wake of the publication of a new study which indicates that Irish people over 50 are now more likely to be active than inactive.
The national study carried out by Age & Opportunity’s Go for Life and Sport Ireland shows that 53 per cent of older adults can be classed as “active” instead of “low or not active”.
Just over half of those are getting half-an-hour of physical activity five days a week so they are reaching the national guidelines for adults. Age & Opportunity and Sport Ireland have been tracking the behaviours and attitudes of older people since 2006. This has been the first time that active older people are in the majority though the research has been seeing activity levels slowly rising over that time from 39 per cent to 53 per cent.
The research findings are partially due to the various programmes delivered by the health promotion department of the HSE and the Galway Sports Partnership at local level.
Paul Gillen of the HSE’s health promotion department, says the survey’s results show the kind of impact that programmes like ‘Go for Life’ are having on the lives and health of older people across Co Galway.
“The work of ‘Go for Life’ continues community-by-community with our physical activity leaders providing peer support to get people active. This is now providing dividends in terms of increasing people’s levels of physical activity. In addition the recent allocations under the ‘Go For Life’ Grant scheme to over 63 Galway based community groups which shared €17,500 between them empowers them to get active and to open the door for other people to take part.”
The majority of people are becoming healthier and more active simply by increasing their walking speed and making time for a regular walk each day. Apart from walking, the most popular activities are swimming and golf among those over 50.
One area that is seeing a notable rise is the popularity of cycling among older people. Since 2011, the numbers on their bikes have risen from four to seven per cent, having exceeded activities like dancing and weight training. While this may be due to increases and improvements in cycle routes, the popularity of cycling among the general population or to other factors, it is expected that there will be an increased number of older people getting up on their bikes.
For information of the Go for Life Programme contact Paul Gillen, HSE at (091 ) 737261.