National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland – ‘Get Ireland Active’

get active Today, Thursday 11th of June, the Department of Health and Children and the Health Service Executive have launched The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland –‘Get Ireland Active’.  The aim of these guidelines is to:

  • highlight the importance of physical activity to the health of Irish people;
  • outline the recommendations for physical activity for people of all ages and abilities;
  • provide information to support those promoting physical activity in their everyday work, and
  • direct people to where they can access information and support to become more physically active.

The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland have been produced, as one of the recommendations from the National Task Force on Obesity,1 to increase physical activity and reduce the levels of overweight and obesity among Irish people. These guidelines highlight the recommendations for physical activity for children, young people, adults, older people and people with disabilities, for example:

  • Adults (18-64yrs) need at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity on 5 days a week or 150 minutes a week.
  • Older people need at least 30 minutes a day of moderate intensity activity on five days a week, or 150 minutes a week.
  • Adults with disabilities should be as active as their ability allows. They should aim to meet the adult guidelines of at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity on 5 days a week.
  • Children and young people (2-18 yrs) should be active at a moderate to vigorous level for at least 60 minutes everyday.

Launching the Guidelines, Ms Aine Brady, TD, Minister for Older People and Health Promotion said “the benefits that increasing levels of physical activity can bring to the people of Ireland, demands that we promote increased levels of physical activity across the population; and help to make this possible through supportive policies in health, education, environment, sport and transport, both at national and local levels”.


We have developed a number of information resources giving details on the Guidelines for those working in the area of physical activity and for the public including ‘get active your way’ a public information booklet, a fact sheet for adults and a fact sheet for parents and children.  The Guidelines can be accessed through:

Dr Patrick Doorley, National Director of Population Health, Health Service Executive stressed that “the key message we want to give is that physical activity is for everyone and that any level of physical activity is better for your health than none at all.  Recent evidence has highlighted that despite longer life expectancy and reduced rates of deaths from heart disease, Irish people still face health risks from the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes, and that physical activity will reduce these risks.”

Physical activity decreases health risks and is a public health priority as:

  • Only 41% of Irish adults do moderate or vigorous physical activity for at least 20 minutes three or more times a week. (SLAN, 2007)2
  • 1 in 5 people in Ireland are physically inactive. (SLAN, 2007)2
  • The Health Behaviours in School Children Survey(HBSC, 2006)3  found that more than half of primary school age children in Ireland did not do the recommended level of physical activity and by 15 years of age, almost nine out of 10 girls and seven out of 10 boys don’t reach the recommended level.

The National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland will support existing work on physical activity in the Health Service and in Schools, Sports Partnerships, Communities, Workplaces and the Voluntary and Statutory sectors.

Internationally people’s physical activity levels are a major public health priority as national guidelines on physical activity have been developed in countries such as Canada, USA and Australia.

Relevant Websites:


Editors Notes:

  • Moderate activity is when the heart is beating faster and the breathing is harder than normal.
  • During vigorous activity the heart is beating much faster and the breathing is much harder than normal.


  1. Department of Health and Children, Obesity The Policy Challenges The Report of the National Taskforce on Obesity 2005
  2. Morgan K, McGee H, Watson D et al 2008. SLAN 2007: Survey of Lifestyle, Attitudes & Nutrition in Ireland. Main Report. Dublin; Department of Health and Children
  3. Nic Gabhainn S, Kelly C, Molcho M. 2007 The Irish Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study 2006. Health Promotion Research Centre, National University of Ireland, Galway