Irish people aged over 50 are more likely to be active than inactive, according to a new survey from Age & Opportunity’s Go for Life, and Sport Ireland.
ICA members are a major force in this drive for exercise, with 25% of the 300,000 Go for Life grant funding going to ICA guilds nationwide.
Over 300 ICA groups have Physical Activity Leaders (PALs) who have been trained by Go for Life to lead and organise short exercise routines, fun games, walks, dances, and a range of adapted sports.
According to Go for Life programme director Mary Harkin, ICA groups get great benefits from having their own PALs to lead activities. “They are healthier and happier and have more energy, they attract more members because they offer more variety, and they have more chances to meet other group, as part of local games leagues and sport-fests.”
“The Go for Life grant makes a big difference to a small group such as ours,” says Judith Holme of Meelick ICA in Co Mayo. “The grant has enabled members of our group to access tai chi, yoga, bowling and a range of other activities which they may not have tried individually. I was speaking to two physiotherapists recently, who were leading a balance class, and they were very pleased to hear that we had received such help over the years, as they wish to promote activities which improve strength and balance, in order to prevent problems caused by falls.”
Mary McNamara, national ICA treasurer and a sport and physical activity officer, is a strong supporter of Go for Life. She has represented Kildare at the Go for Life Games, and volunteers as a mentor on Fitline, a telephone support service run by Go for Life for people who want to have a more active lifestyle.
She says, over the last 15 years, the training and grants provided by Go for Life have made it possible for ICA groups all over the country to include physical activity as part of their programme.
“The key to its success is that Go for Life allows each group to choose activities that suit them.
“As a result, lots of our members, who never really participated in any sport, have been able to try out different activities, and are now more active than they ever were in their lives!”
The new survey showed 53% of older adults can be classed as ‘active’ instead of ‘low or not active’. Just over half of those are getting half-an-hour of physical activity five days a week, thereby reaching the national guidelines for adults.
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