Worryingly, a new report has found that Irish girls are less likely than boys to meet the minimum current physical activity recommendations for optimal health.


And, shockingly, the gender gap widens as boys and girls progress through school; in 4th year, boys are 42 percent fitter than girls, as opposed to 1st year boys being 32 percent fitter than girls.


Well, this is according to new research launched by Irish Life Health as part of its awards ceremony for the 2016 Schools Fitness Challenge.



Over a quarter of all Irish secondary schools signed up for the Irish Life Health Challenge last year, with 22,764 students taking part (10,935 girls and 11,828 boys) - more than in any previous year.


The Irish Life Health Schools Fitness Challenge is a national health initiative designed to assess and improve fitness levels among Irish teenagers with the aim of improving overall health, and Jim Dowdall said it helps teenagers improve their fitness and health


Now in its fifth year, the data from the challenge has enabled the creation of the first ever standardised fitness norms for Irish secondary school children. 


This will allow students to evaluate and rank their own fitness levels in relation to age and gender specific normative data.


“Any form of physical activity is better than none. We should move away from the rigidity of the current PE curriculum to short periods of physical activity that encourage senior cycle students, particularly girls to stay active" Prof. Niall Moyna in the Centre for Preventive Medicine, Dublin City University explained. 


"The new Junior Certificate PE curriculum is a paradigm shift that is long overdue and, if properly resourced, has the potential to have a profoundly positive impact on the current and future health of Irish teenagers.”