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HSC Public Health Agency logo

Health Promotion Agency logo As from 1 April 2009 all Health Promotion Agency responsibilities have been transferred to the Public Health Agency.

Physical activity

In Northern Ireland nearly 8 out of 10 adults do not engage in the recommended amount of physical activity necessary to benefit their
health (1). Young people's physical activity levels are also low as the 1997 health behaviour of school children in Northern Ireland survey indicates. The survey indicates that young people, especially girls, tend to do less physical activity as they get older.

Inactivity is a major coronary heart disease (CHD) risk factor and is similar in magnitude to risks associated with smoking, hypertension and hypercholesterolemia. Evidence that regular physical activity has a protective effect against coronary heart disease is now overwhelming.
In addition, research shows that physical activity can reduce the risk of diabetes, colon cancer, hypertension and obesity. It also promotes psychological wellbeing, builds and maintains healthy bones, muscles and joints reducing the risk of severe injury from falls, and increases functional independence. Taking up physical activity even relatively late in life still has a protective and beneficial effect.

The HPA, in partnership with many other statutory and non statutory organisations, has been working to reduce the high levels of inactivity in the population of Northern Ireland through the development of strategic policy and regional initiatives. In addition, the Agency continues to support the implementation of the Northern Ireland physical activity strategy 1996-2002 through the facilitation and administration of regional meetings, workshops and other forums and through its role as key holder of the research, training and public information elements of the strategy.

(1) MacAuley D et al. The Northern Ireland Health and Activity Survey. Belfast: HMSO, 1994.

 


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