Some teens’ cardiovascular health akin to that of 60-year-olds

Age indicates a trend towards neglecting fitness in the lead-up to the Leaving Cert

Many students give up sport in the lead-up to the Leaving Cert.

Many students give up sport in the lead-up to the Leaving Cert.

 

The cardiovascular health of some inactive 15-year-olds is comparable to that of 55 to 60-year-olds, new research has found.

Prof Niall Moyna of Dublin City University (DCU) said fitness levels for Irish secondary school students were declining significantly from the age of 15 onwards, especially among girls.

These inactive young people have been found to have significantly more plaque on the walls of their arteries.

How often are parents asking their PE teacher about their child’s fitness? PE teachers say their roles are not being taken seriously

The findings were gathered as part of the Irish Life Health’s annual fitness challenge, where school students undergo an initial fitness test to measure their fitness levels.

Wake-up call

Prof Moyna, who oversaw the project, described the findings as a “wake-up call” for schools, parents and policy-makers.

The age at which pupils are becoming more inactive indicates a trend towards neglecting fitness in the lead-up to the Leaving Cert.

However, Prof Moyna said this was raising risk factors for a range of future chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

“Considering the importance of this, why are we not doing more about it? How often are parents asking their PE teacher about their child’s fitness? PE teachers say their roles are not being taken seriously,” he said.

On an encouraging note, he said research showed small steps through a six-week programme could significantly improve fitness levels by an average of 10 per cent.While he said the introduction of PE as a Leaving Cert subject this year was an encouraging step, much more needed to be done.