About The Challenge

Since 2013, the Schools’ Fitness Challenge has helped Irish students become fitter, faster and more energetic.  The Schools’ Fitness Challenge invites secondary schools throughout the country to join us in highlighting the importance of fitness to our future health and to make increasing physical activity a national priority. At Irish Life Health, our aim is that young people will adopt a healthier and more active lifestyle, which will positively benefit their long term health. 

Irish Life Health is committed to supporting the Schools’ Fitness Challenge as it continues to be rolled out across Ireland this year, working in close partnership with Dublin City University.

Schools Fitness Challenge Facts Infograph

Why is Irish Life Health involved in the Schools’ Fitness Challenge?

Irish children simply aren’t as fit as they should be – and this could seriously affect their health and how they perform in school.

In fact, studies show that 86% of young people in Ireland don’t meet current physical activity recommendations. Less than 15% of 10-18 year olds do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each day – the minimum amount recommended by the Department of Health and Children.

The Schools’ Fitness Challenge aims to change this. Building on work in previous years, it invites secondary schools to help students become more aware, more active – and improve their health in the process.

Who is behind the challenge?

Exercise physiologist Dr Sarah Kelly and Schools’ Fitness Challenge creator Professor Niall Moyna from the Centre for Preventive Medicine, Dublin City University will oversee this year’s Challenge.

Dr Sarah Kelly

Professor Niall Moyna

Dr Sarah Kelly 

Dr Sarah Kelly is a lecturer in the Department of Science and Health in the Institute of Technology Carlow. Sarah completed her PhD in Clinical Exercise Physiology in Dublin City University. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Sport Science and a Masters in Exercise Physiology from Dublin City University.

Sarah has provided sports science support throughout the county in various roles. The list of those she has helped is long and includes: Monaghan Senior County Football team; Irish Senior International Compromise Rules team; DCU Athletics and Sigerson team; Dublin Senior Football team; a number of Superleague basketball teams; and the GAA National Intercounty Referees. Sarah was also a sports contributor on Two Tube, a primetime strand broadcast on RTE 2.

Sarah’s research interests have focused on both sports performance and exercise/health-related issues. A major focus of her research has involved the role of exercise in the prevention of cardiovascular disease. In particular, she examines how exercise affects blood vessels in healthy and diseased individuals. Sarah has many achievements in her own sporting career, including winning a number of basketball titles and captaining DCU Mercy to win their first National Superleague title in 2007.

Professor Niall Moyna

Niall is a Professor in the School of Health and Human Performance and a member of the Centre for Preventive Medicine in Dublin City University.

He received his Master’s degree from Purdue University, Indiana, PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, and completed a three year National Institute of Health Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship in Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre.

He was Director of the Clinical Exercise Research Laboratory in the Division of Cardiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre and later moved to Connecticut to take a position as a Senior Research Scientist in Nuclear and Preventive Cardiology at Hartford Hospital. He has published over 100 research papers in international peer-reviewed journals and presented his work at international conferences.

Niall is a Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine and has a keen interest in all sports, especially Gaelic football and athletics.

One of their aims is to make the Challenge a positive experience for everyone involved. So while schools are rewarded for taking part, no one will be embarrassed and individual performances won’t be highlighted.

Participation

Since 2013, over 172,000 secondary school children from all over Ireland have participated in the Schools Fitness Challenge.