Physical Activity Guidelines

Regular physical activity is the key to getting healthy and staying healthy; yet studies show that few Irish people take part in regular physical activity (SLÁN 1999, 2002, 2007).  People use motor transport more than ever and technological advances mean that our working lives are more likely to be inactive, e.g. sitting at a computer.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) and Department of Health and Children have produced The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland to support the promotion of physical activity in Ireland.  

These guidelines aim to:

  • emphasise the importance of physical activity to the health of all Irish people
  • outline the recommendations for physical activity for people of all ages and abilities

According to the World Health Organisation, physical activity “interacts positively with strategies to improve diet, discourages the use of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, helps reduce violence, enhances functional capacity and promotes social interaction and integration.” (WHO, 2003)

The key message is that physical activity is for everyone and any level of activity is better for your health than none.  The guidelines include recommendations for children and young people, adults, people with disabilities and older people.

Guidelines for children and young people (aged 2 –18)

All children and young people should be active, at a moderate to vigorous level, for at least 60 minutes every day.  Include muscle strengthening, flexibility and bone-strengthening exercises three times a week.

Guidelines for adults (aged 18–64)

At least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity, five days a week (or 150 minutes a week).

Guidelines for older people (aged 65+)

At least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity, five days a week (or 150 minutes a week).  Focus on aerobic activity, muscle strengthening and balance.

Guidelines for children and adults with a disability

Aim to be as active as the disability allows to meet the guideline for your age group.