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Ministers of State Frank Feighan and Jack Chambers publish update on progress of the National Physical Activity Plan

Today, Minister of State for Public Health, Wellbeing and the National Drugs Strategy, Frank Feighan TD, and Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Sport, Jack Chambers TD, jointly launched the National Physical Activity Plan Implementation Summary Report, 2019. The report’s publication had been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister Feighan said: “The promotion of physical activity has been a priority for my Department in the context of the implementation of Healthy Ireland. I am very pleased with the progress which has been made to date and which is detailed in both this Implementation Summary Report and previous reports for 2017 and 2018.”

“While the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 emergency have impacted on sports facilities, team sports and other sporting activities, research published by Sport Ireland in mid-2020 shows that individual adult activity levels had risen, with more people participating in walking, cycling, running and outdoor swimming.”

Emphasising the importance of physical activity in the context of the response to COVID-19, the Minister said: “The current #KeepWell national campaign has included Keeping Active as one of its five major themes. This is in clear recognition of the role of physical activity in supporting positive mental health and improving mood and reducing anxiety, in addition to keeping people fit and healthy.

He added: “Sport Ireland is leading a series of initiatives that will support people in keeping active and exercising within their own local areas throughout the Spring and I would urge people to find out how to be active in their area by visiting the Keep Well and Sport Ireland websites.“

Minister Chambers said: “I am pleased to join my colleague Minister Feighan in welcoming the publication of this report. The progress made in the implementation of the National Physical Activity Plan, which is overseen in partnership, led by our two Departments, is a great example of the kind of cross sectoral and cross Departmental cooperation which is delivering results across the areas of health, wellbeing and sport. I look forward to this cooperation continuing to deliver in the years ahead.”

“Sport can offer so much to young and old alike and we have seen throughout the pandemic how much it has been missed. Sport Ireland, our NGBs and our Local Sports Partnerships have contributed greatly to the collective effort in keeping people physically active and well. We will continue to work closely with other Governments and agencies in promoting sport and physical activity. ”

Get Ireland Active – The National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP) was published in 2016 as a key policy component of Healthy Ireland, our national Framework for improved health and wellbeing. The NPAP contains 60 actions intended to promote increased physical activity levels across the population.

The Plan is being implemented, overseen by a cross-sectoral Implementation Group co-chaired by the Departments of Health and Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media. The Departments of Education, Children, Equality, Disability, Integration & Youth, Housing, Local Government & Heritage, and Rural & Community Development are also represented, along with Sport Ireland, the HSE, the Federation of Irish Sport, the LGMA and the academic sector. 

Key initiatives underway include the Active School Flag programme and national strategies for walking and cycling. Increasing physical activity levels in children and young people is a key focus. Improving physical activity levels in women and girls has also been identified as an early priority area by the Department of Health’s Women’s Health Taskforce.

The 2019 Summary Progress Report details the progress made in implementing the 60 actions of the Plan, grouped under 8 action areas which include:

  • Public awareness
  • Children and young people
  • Health
  • Environment
  • Workplaces
  • Sport and physical activity in the community
  • Research monitoring and evaluation
  • Implementation through partnership.

The Report can be accessed through the Healthy Ireland website here.