Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

Get up, get active

(L-R) Former Ireland rugby international Gordon D’Arcy; Jim Dowdall, MD at Irish Life Health; and DCU exercise physiologist Dr Sarah Kelly.

Are you interested in taking steps to improve your overall fitness levels?

Irish Life Health has launched the 2017 Irish Life Health Workplace Fitness Challenge, a six-week programme that encourages Irish workers to take small steps in boosting their fitness. Irish Life Health provides health screenings in workplaces across the country; data from 2017 has shown that 54% of workers are overweight, with more than a third living with high cholesterol.

Developed in partnership with DCU, the fitness challenge is designed to encourage Irish workers to become more physically active. Running from Monday May 22nd to Friday June 30t, participants are asked to measure their cardiovascular fitness level via a free app at the beginning of the programme, and then get to work improving that over the next six weeks.

“Now that exercise is no longer my job, I have to fit it around both a busy work schedule and around two children under two – I can see just how hard it is to make time for fitness!” said Gordon D’Arcy, former Ireland rugby international and one of the challenge’s ambassadors. “The great thing about the Irish Life Health Workplace Fitness Challenge is that it shows that small, consistent exercise really makes a huge difference to your overall health. It’s not about being a top athlete or sweating it out in the gym for hours – building regular exercise into your schedule that boosts your heart rate really results in a lifelong health boost.”


The process is simple – input your data, walk a mile or run 1.5 miles, and then calculate your score. Fitness is measured by MET (Metabolic Equivalent of Task) score, with an increase of one point resulting in an equivalent reduction of 15% risk of a cardiovascular incident, and a reduction in the risk of premature death by 13% — not inconsiderable figures.

Open to companies of all sizes across Ireland, in 2017 a number of urban hiking maps have been launched to promote useful areas for exercise in Dublin, Cork and Galway city centres. The maps can be downloaded from

We all live busy lives, full of responsibilities both at work and at home, and finding the time for consistent exercise can be difficult. However DCU exercise psychologist and parent Dr Sarah Kelly is encouraging people to keep at it. “At times, squeezing in a workout can be so far down my priority list – with kids and work it often seems impossible,” she explains. “But it’s so important to find a place for it in my week – it needs to be non-negotiable and, in my case, it definitely requires planning and wholeheartedly committing to building it into my day. The Workplace Fitness Challenge is only for six weeks – and committing to this short timeframe will allow you to really see your fitness improve. With time, it will become easier to get it done and there will come a time, maybe sooner than you think, that you will enjoy every minute of it!”

When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money's editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.