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get moving

Two and a half hours of exercise a week will improve adults' health, new HSE guidelines say

For the first time in Ireland, physical activity guidelines have been issued for very young children.

JUST TWO AND a half hours of moderate exercise spread across the week will improve people’s bone and heart health, cognitive function and mental health for adults, new HSE guidelines say. 

For the first time in Ireland, physical activity guidelines have been issued for very young children.

The new guidelines say children up to the age of four should not be secured for more than one hour at a time in a pram, high chair or strapped on a caregiver’s back. 

Infants aged less than a year should be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play. 

Children aged one and two should spend at least three hours in a variety of physical activities at any intensity, spread throughout the day. 

Children and adolescents aged between five and 17 should do at least an average of hour hour per day of moderate to vigorous intensity, mostly aerobic, physical activity across the week. 

Additional activities that strengthen muscle and bone should be incorporated at least three days a week, the new guidelines outline.

Adults aged between 18-64 should do at least two and a half hours to five hours of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity or at least an hour and 15 minutes to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity aerobic physical activity throughout the week. 

Additional muscle strengthening activities at moderate or greater intensity that involve all major muscle groups are recommended on two or more days a week.

According to the guidelines, older adults (aged 65+) and older adults living with a disability should do varied multicomponent physical activity, that emphasises functional balance and strength training, on three or more days a week to enhance strength and capacity and to prevent falls.

 Limiting sedentary activity is also a key recommendation across all age groups.  

“As well as regular planned physical activity such as taking part in sports, going to the gym, walking or cycling for travel and pleasure, we all need to be moving more every day, and cutting back on the amount of time spent sedentary,” Sarah O’Brien, national lead of the HSE healthy eating active living programme, said. 

“But we know how busy life can be for many. Simple ways to start incorporating more activity into day to day life could be walking to work instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the lift, if catching the bus, get off a few stops early,” O’Brien said. 

“Reduce the amount of time we spend on screens, whether watching TV, playing games or scrolling through social media on our phones. Instead of a cinema playdate bring the children and their friends to a local playground to run around and climb safely.” 

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