Sport Ireland is delighted to announce the launch of Get Ireland Walking’s Strategy and Action Plan 2017-2020.
Get Ireland Walking is a Sport Ireland initiative, supported by Healthy Ireland and delivered by Mountaineering Ireland. It seeks to establish a vibrant culture of walking in Ireland by; encouraging widespread participation in walking, promoting the benefits of walking and unifying the efforts of all organisations and agencies interested in promoting walking for recreation, transport and health in Ireland.
Get Ireland Walking promotes recreational walking to all members of society regardless of age, location or ability. The new Strategy and Action Plan outline actions across seven themes; public awareness, education and communication, children and young people, health, environment, communities, research, monitoring and evaluation and partnerships. These themes complement each other to provide a multifaceted approach to increasing recreational walking in Ireland.
Speaking at the event, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar TD, said: “Creating a healthier Ireland is a priority for my Government. With these new investments we can help more people, more families and more communities to look after their own health and wellbeing. We are supporting three core areas of physical activity, preventing obesity, and creating a tobacco-free society. By working with schools, communities and State bodies, we are joining the dots to ensure that the benefits of Healthy Ireland are felt at local level.”
John Treacy, CEO of Sport Ireland commented: “I am delighted to see the launch of Get Ireland Walking’s Strategy and Action Plan today. Get Ireland Walking was established in 2013 and aims to promote a culture of walking throughout Ireland. The health benefits of walking, both physical and mental, cannot be underestimated. The strategy outlines actions across seven important themes, which will work to promote a healthier Ireland.”
Walking is the most popular form of physical activity in Ireland. The 2015 Irish Sports Monitor, which surveyed over 8,500 respondents, found that 64.8% took part in recreational walking, nearly five times as many participants as personal exercise, which was the most popular sporting activity.
Recreational walking is a low impact activity that can provide significant health benefits. The National Physical Activity guidelines recommend 150 minutes per week of moderate or vigorous physical activity i.e. five thirty minute sessions. However, any amount of physical activity can provide benefits. Recreational walking is the ideal activity for participants new to physical activity or those who are already active but may not be meeting the guidelines.
Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD commented “Get Ireland Walking’s Strategy and Action Plan offers a clear vision in promoting walking across Ireland. In addition to this the forty one actions within the plan also reflect areas of Ireland’s National Physical Activity Plan. Together Get Ireland Walking and its partner organisations will work to empower communities and individuals to lead a healthier lifestyle. This form of inter-organisation partnership is vital for success and we look forward to working with our partners in the future”.
Murrough McDonagh, CEO of Mountaineering Ireland commented, “This plan represents months of consultation, negotiating and evaluation by Get Ireland Walking and our partner organisations. It is a fantastic achievement to see so many partners committed to the various actions outlined in the plan over the next four years. I would like to thank the government bodies, sporting bodies, charities and other stakeholders who helped develop this plan”.
Get Ireland Walking’s Strategy and Action Plan 2017-2020 is available at www.getirelandwalking.ie
Recreational walking is a low impact activity that can provide significant health benefits.
Recreational walking remains the most popular form of physical activity with approximately 2.3 million participating weekly.
While men are more likely to take part in sport and exercise, women are more likely to take part in recreational walking (70.7% of women and 58.7% of men) however there has been a notable increase among men aged under 25 years taking part in recreational walking since 2013.
While there are persistent social gradients in participation in sport and exercise, with high income earners and those with a third level education more likely to take part, these differences are less severe for recreational walking.
Older adults are more likely to take part in recreational walking than sport and exercise with 62.8% of men aged over 65 years taking part and 67.3% of women aged over 65 years taking part weekly.
The majority of participants walk three times a week while over 1 in 5 (22.4%) walk seven or more times a week.
Most people walk for at least 30 minutes for each walk for recreation they take while 54.8% of participants walked for more than 30 minutes during at least one of their walks
43.9% of respondents walk for transport, an increase of 3.7% since 2013. The increase in walking for transport is driven by adults aged 25 to 44 years.