Aviva Health Insurance recently launched the Schools’ Fitness Challenge 2014 – a national challenge for first, second and third year pupils.
It measures the aerobic fitness levels of school children, and highlights its importance to their current and future health.
Last year four Tipperary schools completed the initiative with almost 200 students taking part, and the Abbey CBS in Tipperary was named as Ireland’s Most Improved School.
Secondary schools across Tipperary can register now to participate in this year’s challenge at www.avivahealth.ie/fitnesschallenge, registration closes on Friday, January 17.
New research from the Wellness Economic Alliance initiative, developed by Professor Niall Moyna from the Centre for Preventive Medicine at Dublin City University, reveals that 8 in 10 secondary school teachers believe physical education should be treated as a core examinable subject on the curriculum for all students. The research was carried among 205 secondary school teachers located in 13 different counties.
“At present there is little or no debate regarding the role of assessment and evaluation of fitness among school-going children in Ireland, and this needs to change,” said Prof Moyna.
“Physical education teachers are professionally trained and have the requisite skill-set to undertake fitness testing and our initial research indicates support by teachers for such an initiative with 80% agreeing with the statement.”
This research shows that secondary school teachers across Ireland share the view that a fit and healthy population is as important as an educated one, with even classroom based teachers agreeing that PE should be assessed by regular testing.
Aviva Health supports the introduction of Physical Education to the new junior certificate programme and together with the Wellness Economic Alliance is calling on the Department of Education to set national age appropriate fitness levels in children, and for the fitness levels of secondary school students to be routinely assessed, like other examinable subjects, as part of the curriculum.
“Fitness is one of the best indicators of a person’s overall health, and a high level of fitness reduces the risk for major chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression, and diabetes. Furthermore, our research shows that the majority of teachers (9 in 10) recognise that regular physical activity impacts positively on student’s academic performance, leading to a marked improvement in concentration, motivation, alertness and an overall healthy mind,” added Prof. Moyna,
A recent report, commissioned by the Irish Sports Council and compiled by ESRI, is the largest study of participation in sport and exercise ever conducted in Ireland. The key findings include that while many primary school children engage in regular sporting activity, the problem lies in keeping them involved as they get older. Interestingly the report also revealed that students who play sport get, on average, better Leaving Certificate results.
This year, Aviva Health’s sponsorship of the Schools Fitness Challenge will be bigger and better, open to first, second and for the first time, third year secondary school students across the country, with prizes across eight categories for most improved and fittest boys, girls and mixed schools plus for every PE teacher whose class completes the challenge, they will be entered into a draw to win a €500 Elverys Sports voucher.
Upon completion of registering for the Challenge at www.avivahealth.ie/fitnesschallenge by Friday, January 17, PE teachers will receive all they need to participate including a step-by-step guide on how to complete the Challenge and a CD with the bleep test. The initial fitness test will examine the current level of fitness of the students and these results must be uploaded to the website by 31st January 2014. The teachers will then undertake a six week training programme with their students to improve the cardiovascular fitness and then the students will complete another fitness test to measure the improvement.
Aviva Health would like teachers to get involved online as well, so make sure you keep them up to date on how your school is progressing by tweeting @AvivaIreland and using the Aviva Health Schools’ Fitness Challenge hash tag on Twitter #SchoolsFitness Challenge