The Daily Mile aims to get primary school children engaged in daily physical activity to improve their mental and physical health
The Daily Mile which sees children run or jog at their own pace, for just 15 minutes every day has seen rapid growth over the last 12 months, with over 145,000 primary school children taking part in daily exercise as a result of the programme. A media day was held today in Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál, Inchicore, to highlight the importance of physical exercise in primary school children. The Daily Mile also announced that SPAR will be coming on to support the initiative alongside INEOS and Irish Life Health.
The Daily Mile ambassador, Frank Greally, has seen first hand how the movement has grown in Ireland over the last 12 months. He said; “I can see how this generation of schoolchildren really needed this. We were sitting on a time-bomb and we had to take action. It’s just 15 minutes a day, but it makes such as significant difference. We had over 800 schools sign up within the first year and the response from parents and teachers has been overwhelmingly positive”.
Physical inactivity has significant implications, costing our annual health budget €1.5 Billion according to the Irish Government. Research indicates that 16% of 5-12 year olds in Ireland are overweight or obese1. According to Prof. Niall Moyna, Head of the School of Health and Human Performance, we risk “children today being the first in humanity not to outlive their parents because of poor lifestyle and inactivity”.
The Daily Mile movement looks to play its part in reversing these trends. Schools and teachers are buying into The Daily Mile because it’s free, simple to implement, flexible and works in a variety of settings.
The Daily Mile aims to build on the success of the previous 12 months, and wants every school in Ireland to register and get involved. This will be achieved with the backing of official partners INEOS, Irish Life Health, and SPAR, who have come on board to offer support in increasing awareness of the movement. This will compliment funding from Healthy Ireland and Tomas Trust, as well as the great work being done by Local Sports Partnerships around the country in promoting The Daily Mile.
The key to the success of The Daily Mile is that there is no extra workload for teachers, and no need for kit or special equipment – children take part in whatever they’re wearing. More than 9,500 schools are already registered for The Daily Mile in over 60 countries, and the research from The Daily Mile Foundation has pointed to numerous benefits for children’s physical and mental health and well-being.
Speaking about the importance of exercise, Prof. Niall Moyna, said: “We need to provide young children with the best possible start, so they can lead a healthy and active life. It continues to baffle me that people don’t seem to understand the importance fitness has for children’s long-term mental health, short-term well-being and academic performance. There are several international studies which show that exercise not only helps with physical fitness but that it also helps reduce stress levels, increases concentration levels and positively impacts on academic performance. Running or walking for a mile a day will have a profound impact in lowering the risk of developing chronic diseases8.
And The Daily Mile doesn’t just tackle the issue of physical health. Research has shown that children report feeling happier, more awake and calmer after doing The Daily Mile5. It also has shown to improve focus and concentration and can help improve classroom behaviour 6.
Athlete, and teacher at Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál, Sean Hehir, has seen first-hand the benefits that The Daily Mile has had in the classroom. He said; “Being from an athletics background myself, I can vouch for the positive effect daily exercise has on your day to day mental health and well-being. You can see a noticeable difference in the attentiveness and focus in the children after they’ve engaged in the 15 minutes of exercise. It’s something that should become the norm in every classroom across Ireland”.
Hamish Adams, CEO of Athletics Ireland highlighted the success of the programme over the last 12 months: “The Daily Mile movement really is something special, and it’s great to have partners who are so passionate about improving the health and well-being of the children of Ireland. We are delighted to welcome SPAR on board, and we must also thank INEOS, Irish Life Health, Tomar Trust, Healthy Ireland, and our Local Sport Partnerships for their continued commitment to improving the health and fitness of the children of Ireland”.
A core principle of The Daily Mile is that it remains free and fully accessible to any school or child that would like to take part. This is made possible by the support of its partners and supporters.
Liz Rowen, Head of Marketing, Irish Life Health said: “Athletics Ireland and Irish Life Health have a shared vision of getting people of all ages active and staying healthy. The Daily Mile programme is having a profound positive impact on the mental and physical health of the children of Ireland, and we are delighted to continue to support the great work that is being done ”.
Colin Donnelly, SPAR Sales Director, also expressed the commitment of SPAR in backing The Daily Mile: “SPAR is passionate about exercise and encouraging healthier lifestyles for young people. SPAR Retailers are enthusiastic about supporting the communities they serve and are delighted to be supporting The Daily Mile, which is specifically aimed at primary school children aged between 5-12 years of age. We are committed to seeing the movement promoted right across the country through the support of our local community based retailers.”
The Daily Mile will be further highlighted at the upcoming Dublin Sportsfest which takes place from 23rd – 29th September 2019, coinciding with the European Week of Sport. Dublin City is calling on all schools in the City area in September to sign up to the Daily Mile. There will be a launch at Irishtown Stadium on the 23rd of September where a select number of schools will be invited to attend.
If you are a parent or carer interested in getting your school involved in The Daily Mile, please visit www.thedailymile.ie and join the movement.
- Research links on the benefits of The Daily Mile attached
- Download interview from Prof Niall Moyna :
Download link – The Daily Mile in action