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Publication

Be Well

Last updated: 17 April 2019
Published: 4 April 2019
From: Healthy Ireland and Department of Health

Physical activity guidelines

Regular physical activity is key to getting and staying healthy. These guidelines include recommendations for children and young people as well as adults, people with disabilities and older people.

  • children and young people (2-18): all children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day
  • adults (18-64): at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week or 150 minutes a week
  • older people (65+): at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week, or 150 minutes a week. Focus on aerobic activity, muscle-strengthening and balance
  • children and adults with a disability should aim to be as active as their disability allows, and aim to meet the guideline for their age group if possible

You can count even shorter bouts of activity towards the guidelines. These bouts should last at least 10 minutes.

How to start

It’s easier than you think to get into a regular fitness habit. Start with any activity that raises your heart rate, makes you breathe faster and feel warmer.

Examples of activities that require this type of moderate effort for most people include:

  • brisk walking
  • riding a bike
  • dancing

One way to tell if you're working at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you can't sing the words to a song.

For more examples of how to get started, go to our partners in the HSE and Get Ireland Active.

Walking works

No matter how old you are, how fit you are, or how busy you are, walking works. The most important thing is to aim for a pace that slightly raises your heartbeat and makes you breathe a little faster and feel a little warmer. Once you can still talk, you're doing well!

Find ways to fit walking into your day, or to encourage yourself to get moving. Try meeting friends for a walk instead of a drink, or just walk the short journeys that you sometimes drive. Taking the stairs instead of an elevator is also a great way to increase the amount of walking you do every day!

Find out more about walking from Get Ireland Walking.

Get kids into an active lifestyle

Kids need to be active every day. All activity, no matter how short, counts - whether it’s organised sports or active play at home.

We should aim for our kids to play and be active at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day. Anything from games like hide-and-seek to cycling or playing football in the garden is good.

There are some great ideas at START to get you started!

Even very young children can benefit from being active. You can get more great tips at the HSE.

Find an activity you like

You are more likely to remain physically active if you find an activity you enjoy and can fit it into everyday life. Like many things, friends can make things easier for you. Find someone you know and invite them along!

Local sports partnerships

Your local sports partnership co-ordinates the development of sport at a local level and each county hosts a sports education and training hub where you can find out about what sports are available in your local area.

Find your local sports partnership here.

For more information about different sports bodies in Ireland go to the Federation of Irish Sport

Running

parkrun is a brilliant place to start running. It’s a weekly, free and timed run in a growing number of different locations across the country.

You turn up on a Saturday morning, just before 9:30 and run, walk or jog your way around a 5k course. Remember... it's not a race!

Like many things in life, friends can make things easier for you. Find someone you know and invite them along. Then go down together and take on the world.

Swimming

Whether you want to learn how to swim for safety reasons, as a distraction from life, for your health or competitively, the beauty about swimming is that it can be done throughout life.

Swimming is both a valuable life skill and an activity you can enjoy throughout your life. Swimming can be accessed by all abilities and has many therapeutic, mental and physical health benefits!

Swim Ireland has accredited swim schools located across the island of Ireland. For further information on all things swimming, please go to our partners in Swim Ireland.

Cycling

More and more people are cycling everyday either as part of their commute to work or school or as exercise. Cycling Ireland has lots of information for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

A good place to start is Bike for Life - a 'sofa to saddle' progamme which gives people the skills and knowledge to enjoy cycling and cycle safely from scratch.