When it comes to making time for exercise, research has shown repeatedly that women are less likely to prioritise their own physical well-being; instead putting other people’s needs before their own.

That’s why Sport Ireland, in conjunction with Healthy Ireland, have launched the “It’s My Time” campaign to encourage women over 40 especially to increase their physical activity levels.

Director of Participation with Sport Ireland, Louise Burke who is from a beef farm outside Loughrea, Co Galway shares some statistics with Irish Country Living that she describes as “disappointing but totally reflective of every Irish woman that I know.”

For example, at the moment, nearly half of Irish women over the age of 40 do not priortise physical activity. One in three claim they meet the recommended guidelines of 30 minutes of strenuous activity five days a week. This research conducted by Sport Ireland, highlighted the significant and varied time pressures women in their 40s, 50s and 60s experience including work, commuting, childcare, family commitments and managing the household. As a result, 41% don’t have time and almost two thirds are often too tired to exercise.

For Burke, her role is all about getting people active – increasing participation. So you can expect she will be keeping an eye on the above statistics and will be doing all she can to change the percentages currently listed.

Having worked as the Galway Sports Partnership coordinator before taking up this role, Burke can draw on her own life experience as well as professional know-how in motivating women to priortise themselves.

Pictured is Republic of Ireland Manager Vera Pauw at the launch of Sport Ireland’s new “It’s My Time” campaign. The new initiative from Sport Ireland and Healthy Ireland looks to encourage women who are over 40 to make time for themselves and increase their activity levels through sport and exercise. For more information on It’s My Time, visit https://www.sportireland.ie/itsmytime

“One of the main things I want to get out of this campaign is that women don’t feel guilty about taking the time for themselves. That Irish women don’t feel guilty for prioritising that 30 minutes for a walk, the exercise class, that cycle, that swim. That to me is the most important metric – to shake off the guilt and bear in mind the health benefits when we do priortise our own physical activity.”

Women interested in increasing their activity levels can log onto https://www.sportireland.ie/itsmytime to access specially commissioned exercise videos covering; fitness, flexibility, strength and balance, an educational series covering; muscle health, bone health, cardiovascular health, sleep health, mental health, well-being and nutrition as well as easy to follow and convenient healthy recipes.

A reader’s experience

“I had begun to notice a pain in my hip. Things like meeting someone in the supermarket, normally I enjoy the chat but that was when the pain seemed to flare up: when I was standing. My brother-in-law had his hip done last summer and was very pleased with how he got on. Eventually, I went to my GP who sent me for an x-ray. I was advised to have further investigation when the results came back so I went to see the consultant who operated on my brother-in-law. I was sure I would be told I needed a new hip. He asked me if I walked much. I had actually given up going for walks because I was doing a cycle around the block most days. He advised me to priortise a walk every day, along with the cycle whenever I could manage it. So, I made the effort and got out for a walk at my own pace after dinner every day. Would you believe the pain eased off and I am still making time for the walk and a cycle when I can.”

Louise Burke’s Top Tips to Priortise Physical Activity

  • If you like the idea of going for a hill-walk but you don’t know anyone to go with or you might not know the area you would like to go to, contact Mountaineering Ireland. They can put you in touch with people who are familiar with the area and help you achieve your goals. That is exactly what they are there for.
  • There is a ream of national governing bodies for different sports and they want to promote their sport, whether that is rounders or pickleball, they will help you get going if that is what you would like to play.
  • Every county in the country has a local sports partnership and the work they are doing is phenomenal. There are designated programmes for women and they have a connection to every community in the country.
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