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Marie H. Murphy, Angela Carlin, Catherine Woods, Alan Nevill, Ciaran MacDonncha, Kyle Ferguson and Niamh Murphy

Background: Time spent in university represents a period of transition and may be an appropriate time to promote physical activity among young adults. The aim of this study was to assess participation of university students in sport and physical activity in Ireland and to explore the association between physical activity and perceptions of overall health, mental health, and happiness. Methods: The Student Activity and Sport Study Ireland was a cross-sectional online survey among a representative sample (n = 8122) of university students in Ireland. Binary logistic regressions were performed to examine associations between self-reported physical activity and gender (predictor variables) and individual perceptions of overall health, mental health, and happiness (binary outcomes). Results: Only 64.3% of respondents met the recommended level of 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week with males significantly more active than females (72.1% vs 57.8% meeting guidelines). Those meeting physical activity guidelines were more likely to report greater overall health and higher mental health and happiness scores compared with their inactive peers. Conclusions: Active students enjoy better health (overall and mental) and are happier than their inactive peers. This provides a clear rationale for providing students with opportunities to be active at university. The data provide a baseline to monitor changes in physical activity patterns.

Open access

Deirdre M. Harrington, Marie Murphy, Angela Carlin, Tara Coppinger, Alan Donnelly, Kieran P. Dowd, Teresa Keating, Niamh Murphy, Elaine Murtagh, Wesley O’Brien, Catherine Woods and Sarahjane Belton

Background:

Physical activity (PA) is a key performance indicator for policy documents in both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Building on baseline grades set in 2014, Ireland’s second Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth allows for continued surveillance of indicators related to PA in children and youth.

Methods:

Data and information were extracted and collated for 10 indicators and graded using an international standardized grading system.

Results:

Overall, 7 grades stayed the same, 2 increased, and 1 decreased. Grades were assigned as follows: Overall PA, D (an increase); Sedentary Behavior (TV), C-; Physical Education, D-; Active Play, Incomplete/Inconclusive (INC); Active Transportation, D; School, D (a decrease); Home (Family), INC; Community and the Built Environment, B+ (an increase); and Government, INC. Unlike 2014’s report card, different grades for the Republic (C-) and Northern Ireland (C+) were assigned for Organized Sport Participation.

Conclusions:

Although the grade for Overall PA levels increased to a D, this may reflect the increased quality and quantity of data available. The double burden of low PA and high sedentary levels are concerning and underscore the need for advocacy toward, and surveillance of, progress in achieving targets set by the new National Physical Activity Plan in the Republic and obesity and sport plans in the North.