Irish Life Health backs Athletics delivering Health & Lifelong Activity


Irish Life Health was today announced as an official partner to Athletics Ireland, a sport that develops children’s fundamental movement skills which research has shown contributes significantly to the probability of a long-term active life2by up to 20%1. Physical inactivity has significant implications, costing our annual health budget €1.5 billion according to the Government. Research also indicates numerous health benefits of running throughout life including living approximately three years longer than non-runners3. Athletics is well placed as an ideal sport for life, with Athletics Ireland offering a range of programmes reaching 100,000 people daily aged 8 to 80. It also connects with the wider 300,0004 strong running community through events and initiatives.  Irish Life Health through its partnership with Athletics Ireland is committing to a sport that delivers on health, wellness and lifelong activity.


In addition to increased chances of being active throughout life, there is strong research showing that better fundamental movement skills in children result in better long-term body weight, and better cardiorespiratory and musculoskeletal fitness5. At the heart of these skills are running, jumping and throwing, the very essence of athletics which are key to developing the ABCs: agility, balance, and coordination.


Speaking at the announcement Dr. Tom Comyns, lecturer in Human Movement Science at the University of Limerick said: “We need to provide young children with the best possible start, so they can lead a healthy and active life. Numerous research studies have pointed to the fact that there is a strong positive relationship between fundamental movement skill competence and physical activity in children and adolescents. This is most likely due to the abilities and confidence that children gain from the early development of those skills.”

Research carried out by ERSI and Sport Ireland, entitled Sporting Lives: An Analysis of a Lifetime of Irish Sport5 found that during adulthood, participation in individual sports like running continues to rise while participation in team sports falls away rapidly. This is backed by the Irish Sports Monitor, Annual Report 20176 which found that close to 300,000 adults in Ireland run regularly, more than those who play Soccer and GAA combined.


Gary Ryan, former Olympian and Project Manager UL Beo (University of Limerick initiative in the areas of physical activity, health, lifestyle and sport) added: “Exercise is the ultimate health pill with numerous studies finding it leads to better heart health, reduced risk of cancer, lower risk of diabetes and better mental health. Running is especially beneficial with a recent review suggesting that runners have a 25%-40% reduced risk of premature mortality3. Through its simplicity, convenience, and accessibility, running is an activity that can be continued throughout life. It is an especially good form of exercise for those who are time poor to get the necessary levels of intensity of physical activity required.”


Thomas Barr, European 400m Hurdlers Bronze Medallist and Brand Ambassador for Irish Life Health since 2016, said: “Children acquiring the basic movement skills has such a long-term positive impact on their health. Athletics is an ideal sport for developing these skills, providing an ideal foundation for a lifetime of movement and activity.” 


Liz Rowen, Head of Marketing, Irish Life Health said: “This is a great partnership with tremendous synergy between Irish Life Health and Athletics Ireland. We both have a shared vision of getting Ireland active and staying healthy. Together we’ll work hard towards getting more people moving through athletics and running.”  Rowen added: “We are also excited to work with the association to connect with the 300,000 strong running community in Ireland and will be announcing a new initiative in the coming months.” 


Hamish Adams, CEO of Athletics Ireland: “Athletics Ireland looks forward to continuing to work with Irish Life Health which is a long-term partner of our sport. Athletics Ireland has a mission to support and develop the athletes of Ireland of all ages, disciplines, and abilities and to contribute positively to increasing physical activity levels across the entire population. The support provided by Irish Life Health will enable our association to deliver on these objectives from our competition programmes, summer camps, the Daily Mile and many other initiatives.”


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