Fianna Fáil Senator Jennifer Murnane O’Connor says the Government needs to put in place a national campaign to help promote fitness and wellbeing amongst children.

Senator Murnane O’Connor made the comments after the initial findings of a national study of exercise levels among primary school children found that their motor skills are chronically under-developed due to a lack of physical exercise.

The ‘Moving Well – Being Well’ study is being carried out by Dublin City University in collaboration with the GAA.

“The initial findings of this study are shocking. The research team have found that many Irish children cannot perform basic tasks such as jumping, catching a ball or throwing overhand. There are a number of factors which have led to this situation including overuse of electronic devices, overly cautious parents and a lack of structured sports activities in schools,” explained Senator Murnane O’Connor.

“The full findings of this report are yet to be published but it’s clear it will make for grim reading. The failure to encourage children to engage in physical exercise and sports will undoubtedly lead to a public health crisis in the years ahead. This public health crisis will not only impact on physical wellbeing, but also on mental wellbeing as we already know that engaging in physical exercise is important for promoting positive mental health.

“The Government needs to get serious about dealing with inactivity amongst children. A national campaign is needed to promote physical exercise and sporting activities. There are many organisations working to promote fitness amongst children but a co-ordinated approach by Government is needed, particularly within our schools. This could start immediately if incorporated into the school curriculum in national and secondary schools.

“We are already playing catch-up on this issue. We can’t afford to wait any longer before taking decisive action to promote fitness. The Government should be ready to implement a national campaign to coincide with the publication of this important research,” concluded Senator Murnane O’Connor.