Some Irish teens’ heart health comparable to that of 60-year-olds

Research gathered as part of Irish Life Health’s annual fitness challenge has revealed the cardiovascular health of some local 15-year-olds is comparable to that of 55- or 60-year-olds—something experts are attributing to low levels of physical activity among the country’s youth.

Niall Moyna, leader of the research effort and a professor at Dublin City University, told the Irish Times his study found fitness levels among Irish secondary school students were declining significantly starting at age 15. His team drew data from the Irish Life Health challenge, which measures fitness levels among all Irish school children every year.

Moyna called the results a “wake-up call” for schools, parents and policymakers.

“Considering the importance of this, why are we not doing more about it?” he said. “How often are parents asking their P.E. teacher about their child’s fitness? P.E. teachers say their roles are not being taken seriously.”

He said overall fitness could improve by 10 percent if students stuck to a six-week health program. Physical education was also introduced as a Leaving Cert subject this year in Ireland, meaning fitness classes can now count toward students’ credits for graduation and the completion of their Leaving Certificates.

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