The fittest secondary schools in Ireland have been revealed
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The results of the Irish Life Health School's Fitness Challenge 2018 depicts a significant drop of 80% in participation after 3rd year across Irish secondary schools, causing worry for a potential child health epidemic, in Ireland.
Nearly 9,000 students aged 13 participated in the Schools Fitness Challenge while just a worrying 1,300 aged 17 took part. In addition to this, fitness levels among girls has also seen a dramatic decrease from 1st to 6th year.
This national health initiative is designed to assess and improve fitness levels among secondary students in Ireland with the aim of improving overall health and it also recognises the fittest and most improved schools across Ireland.
The programme is overseen by Prof. Niall Moyna in the Center of Preventive Medicine, Dublin City University and he believes there is a major cause for concern.
"The sudden drop in participation after third year is extremely alarming," Moyna said.
"We are seeing a direct link between the drop in participation and the increasing number of children aged from 16 – 18 years not meeting the minimum level of fitness required for optimal health. This is a major national issue, and the big question is why are schools and parents letting this happen?"
The programme measures the students cardio-respiratory fitness (CRF). Low CRF increases the risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD), while improving CRF reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as Diabetes, Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Moyna believes that prevention is better than cure and that continuous observation of cardiovascular fitness should be mandatory across all secondary schools as cardiovascular disease is the lead cause of death in Ireland today.
Underlying the importance on exercise with regards academic performance, Moyna said: “It continues to baffle me that people don’t seem to understand the importance fitness has for children’s long-term brain health and short-term well-being and academic performance.
"There are several international studies which show that exercise helps reduce stress levels, increases concentration levels and positively impacts on academic performance."
Now in it's eight year, over 200,000 students have participated in the Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge making it the largest national multi-year surveillance study on the fitness of secondary school children in Ireland.
Below are some of this years results.
Ireland's Fittest School
Mixed: Carrigallen Vocational School, Leitrim
Boys: St Macartan’s college, Monaghan
Girls: Colaiste Naomh Mhuire, Kildare
Ireland's Most Improved School
Mixed: Gort Community School, Galway
Boys: Summerhill College Sligo
Girls: Alexandra College, Dublin
A full list of 2018 results can be found here.