Hundreds attend health check initiative held to inspire healthy commutes

Aimed at increasing awareness of the health benefits of walking and cycling to school, work and college, an estimated 350 people attended the recent free mini health check initiative, which took place over a four-hour period in the car park of Westside Shopping Centre.

The initiative, which was organised by Galway Transportation Unit, Galway City Council in conjunction with Galway University Hospital, NUI, Galway, An Taisce Green Schools and Galway Healthy Cities Initiative forms part of a range of actions being implemented in recent months as part of the Bike, Walk and Bus on the Westside campaign.

To facilitate the mini health checks, a marquee was set up in the carpark of Westside Shopping Centre and HSE Health Promotion Services staff were on hand to measure key health indicators such as weight, waist circumference, percentage body fat and blood pressure.

Irene O’Byrne, smoking cessation facilitator in Galway University Hospital, provided health information on giving up smoking. Representatives from the Irish Cancer Society Daffodil Information Service was also present and provided cancer related health information. Paul Gillen, Health Promotion Officer, HSE explained that “the health team were delighted with the response from the community with so many people keen to engage in walking and cycling and reap the benefits of being active more often”.

Numerous bikes were also on display courtesy of Nigel's Bike Shop to highlight to the public the range of different bicycles on the market and the tax savings available through the bike purchase scheme. In addition, using large scale area maps, staff from Galway Transportation Unit illustrated typical 2km and 4km walking and cycling distances from peoples home aimed at supporting and encouraging greater physical activity en route for example to work and education.

With a queue of people of all age groups forming before the event even began this simple 4 hour initiative made clear that the public have an interest in improving their own health and fitness levels. Speaking about the trial initiative, Joe Tansey, Head Galway Transportation Unit stated: "this initiative forms part of a range of actions implemented in recent months designed to increase awareness of the benefits of walking and cycling to work, college and school.

“With queues of people attending throughout the duration of the event, it provided a fantastic opportunity to reinforce the benefits of physical activity for the individual and the City. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the partners involved in this project and Westside Shopping Centre for facilitating this initiative on site. With in excess of 350 people attending in such a short time, this trial provided a fabulous platform to increase awareness of the implications of our car dependency".

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