Navan uses Healthy Town status to get fitter, not fatter

The Healthy town project has led to an increase in people taking exercise and eating a healthy diet

Hector Ó hEochagáin launches  Healthy Town 2016 in Newgrange Hotel, Navan, Co Meath last September. Photograph: Barry Cronin

Hector Ó hEochagáin launches Healthy Town 2016 in Newgrange Hotel, Navan, Co Meath last September. Photograph: Barry Cronin

 

A project aimed at raising awareness of health and wellbeing has led to an increase in people taking exercise and eating a healthy diet, a new survey has found.

The Irish Times /Pfizer Healthy town project, which took place in Navan, Co Meath in the latter part of 2016, has been credited with a rise in those taking regular exercise.

The number of people taking regular exercise is now at 71 per cent. This is up from 63 per cent before the project started in September. Those reporting better eating habits has climbed from 39 per cent to 67 per cent.

The project, which ran for eight weeks, aimed to show people how simple lifestyle changes could benefit their mental and physical health. A series of talks by former runner Catherina McKiernan, celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio and well-known psychologist Dr Harry Barry took place over the period.

The survey, conducted by Behaviour & Attitudes, showed that men and women had different attitudes with men more pro-exercise (76 per cent of men compared with 68 per cent of women). Women tended to prioritise reducing fat and excesses from their diet (86 per cent of women versus 80 per cent of men).

Each year, The Irish Times and Pfizer select a town and run a series of events. The recent Healthy Town campaign in Navan featured a series of free health and wellness-related seminars and events in the town including free health checks by the Irish Heart Foundation, nutrition and grocery shopping advice, weekly public walks, primary school teacher training to help children exercise more and family fun sports days.

Almost one in four of those surveyed said they had participated in a Healthy Town event during the eight-week programme. As part of the project, The Irish Times ran a dedicated microsite which featured articles on diet, exercise and mental health as well as daily health tips. The Health + Family supplement, which is published in The Irish Times every Tuesday, also ran a series of articles related to the project.

Local TD and Minister for Housing and Urban Renewal, Damien English, who helped launch the project, said it had shown that any physical activity was better than none. “By upping your exercise level even a little from what you normally do, you are improving your physical and mental wellbeing,” he said.

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