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Sep 18

National Fitness Day is back, so get active and develop a fitter, healthier Ireland – Independent.ie

National Fitness Day is back with a bang this year. Leisure and fitness facilities across the country are opening their doors to the public with open days, classes of all kinds and free giveaways on Thursday next.

he aim of the day is to promote the benefits of physical activity, while showcasing the range of facilities, sports, and options available across the country for people to choose from. National Fitness Day is spearheaded by Ireland Active and supported by Sport Ireland, Healthy Ireland, and the European Commission.

Ireland Active is the national association for leisure, health and fitness sector and represent over 350 publicly and privately-owned leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, fitness education providers and recreation facilities nationwide. They were instrumental in the safe return of gyms following the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.

Now, Ireland Active are working tirelessly to lobby government in tackling the cost of the energy crisis which is causing havoc in the Irish leisure industry.

The bottom line is that without financial support in the upcoming budget, people are facing the loss of fitness and swimming facilities that they rely on for their health and wellbeing while children will lose out on learning to swim.

Over 60 Ireland Active member leisure centres and gyms will participate in National Fitness Day events. Schools will take part in a Take on the Teacher challenge, pitting students against teachers in sports day games in the hope of winning fitness equipment for their classrooms.

Offices and workplaces will also be putting on free yoga and aerobics classes as a way of invigorating staff while incorporating more physical activity into the workday.

Regular exercise has a number of beneficial factors, from creating a healthy mind and body to a greater quality of life. However, many of us find getting fit troubling. It becomes a challenge, and it shouldnt be that is why we believe a day like this is so important.

With a multitude of free events available on the day, it is a fantastic opportunity for those who might not be regular gym-goers to get moving and exercise.

David Nolan, National Fitness Day Ambassador and sports scientist, writes that: Being physically active and engaged in exercise has a wealth of benefits for your physical and mental health.

While you may be familiar with the physical benefits of improved fitness, reduced risk of lifestyle-related diseases and achieving a healthy weight, you may not be as au fait with the mental health benefits.

Those who exercise regularly, on average have better mood states, reduced anxiety, improved mental function and reduced risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimers and other dementias.

National Fitness Day is for all demographics, whether old or young, gym fanatic or newcomer. For this reason, Ireland Active are partnering with ExWell Medical, who provide medically supervised exercise as a means of rehabilitation and disease prevention.

As Nolan explains: Exercise is especially important as you get older, particularly strength-based exercise as it strengthens your bones and muscles. This allows you to move better and maintain your independence and quality of life as you age. Strength exercises also reduce your risk of falls and fractures, which we all know can have a drastic impact on your health.

No matter your age or ability, there is a form of exercise you can reap the benefits of. Seek out qualified professionals who will be more than happy to help you get started. Whether its strolling, swimming, or squatting, you wont regret starting.

Our national physical activity guidelines recommend children and adolescents (2-18 years) should be engaging in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day, while adults should be physically active for at least 30 minutes for five days a week. However, research has shown that only 13 per cent of children and 46 per cent of adults meet these guidelines.

In addition, significant gender gap in physical activity levels persists, with 54 per cent of men to just 38 per cent of women meeting the guidelines.

So, National Fitness Day is a nationwide effort to break down these barriers and provide free classes along with a welcoming and enjoyable experience to gym-goers. How you celebrate National Fitness Day is entirely up to you. However, there is no shortage of events taking place across the country.

Karl Dunne, Chief Executive of Ireland Active, sums it up well when he states: At Ireland Active, we are passionate about developing a fitter, healthier Ireland. This years National Fitness Day will run as part of the 2022 European Week of Sport, and we are particularly proud that we will play our part in what will be a fantastic week of activities.

After what has been a difficult year for our industry, we are really looking forward to seeing everyone get involved on the day and making use of the excellent facilities on offer across the country.

If you wish to get involved, a map of all activities in Ireland, along with sign up details can be found on nationalfitnesday.ie.

Daire Hancock works with Ireland Active

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National Fitness Day is back, so get active and develop a fitter, healthier Ireland - Independent.ie

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