28,000 GAA members walk the walk thanks to Irish Life GAA Healthy Club Steps Challenge
The ‘Every Step Counts’ Irish Life GAA Healthy Club Steps Challenge saw 28,600 GAA members from 690 clubs walk a combined total of five million kilometres between January 19th and February 23rd.
With every step once again tracked through Irish Life’s MyLife App, the distance covered is the equivalent of walking all the way to the moon and back five times; a combined step count of seven billion. Each participant walked an average of almost 190 kilometres in the five weeks.
Prof. Niall Moyna, BA, MSc, PhD, FACSM, FFPHMI, Full Professor: Clinical Exercise Physiology, School of Health and Human Performance, Faculty of Science and Health, Dublin City University, who is also well known for his GAA credentials, said:
“The fact that we have had 28,600 people engaging from almost 700 clubs is phenomenal. The impact this will have on public health is incalculable. It’s not just the acute effect [participants] get from engaging in that bout of activity – but the long-term effects are absolutely astronomical. It will reduce their risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, from many forms of cancer and will reduce their likelihood that they will become obese or will assist them in losing weight as well.”
The challenge was the third delivered during the pandemic through the award-winning Irish Life GAA Healthy Club Project and has proven itself as a popular way to motivate the community to get active while also connecting the participants in a fun and healthy way.
The first challenge in June 2020 attracted 12,000 participants from over 400 clubs, with the MyLife App tracking all 2.2 billion steps taken. Last year Every Step Counts Challenge in January saw 28,100 participants from over 600 clubs track an average of 4km per day. This year’s 28,600 participants have increased their average distance to an impressive 5.2 kilometres daily.
“There isn’t a single organ system in the body that is not positively affected by regular physical activity, even if it’s only a two-minute, three-minute or four-minute piece of activity” Prof. Moyna added.
The stakes were raised this year with the same club target of 4,000km set for the ‘Every Step Counts’ challenge – the equivalent of a circuit of the coast of Ireland – but with just 5 weeks to reach it. More than 450 clubs achieved this goal and were entered into randomised draws in their province for gear vouchers worth €2,500, €1,500, and €1,000, generously provided by Irish Life as part of their on-going partnership of GAA Healthy Clubs (see editors notes for full list of prize winners).
While the winning clubs welcomed the prize monies, the benefits of the challenge far exceeded the financial rewards.
Healthy Club Officer with the Curry Healthy Club in Sligo, explains:
“It was fantastic to see so many people out on bleak winter evenings talking and having fun. People you wouldn’t normally see from one end of the year to the next. Programmes like this highlight the exceptional work of the Healthy Clubs involvement in clubs and communities. Would you believe we had an 82-year-old doing 5km to 8km most days.”
GAA President Larry McCarthy said: “The Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs Steps Challenge provides clubs with a healthy and fun way to keep physically active and connected during the dark winter months. It has also helped motivate thousands of participants to achieve their recommended weekly physical activity levels. It is one of our most popular community initiatives and its enabling of physical, mental, and social health couldn’t be more timely.”
Head of Health & Wellbeing at Irish Life, Stacey Machesney said: “Research has shown the importance having a sense of belonging to a community and making a contribution to society. That sense of inclusion is as important to one’s wellbeing as physical and mental health. Over the course of the pandemic MyLife has been successful in providing this with the GAA community and our customers. We look forward to continuing this as we move through the next phase of coming out of lockdown.”
The Irish Life GAA Healthy Clubs will grow to 475 participating clubs on March 12th when 172 new clubs commence their journey with a national orientation day in Croke Park. For more details go to: www.gaa.ie/community
MyLife is a health & wellbeing app that motivates and rewards users to embrace a healthier lifestyle through a personalised AI coach, goal setting and challenge activities. For more details on the MyLife app go to: https://mylife.irishlife.ie/home
Winners of random provincial draw amongst all clubs that reached 4,500km target:
Province €2,500 O’Neill’s voucher €1,500 O’Neill’s voucher €1,000 O’Neill’s voucher
Leinster Kilmessan GAA Skerries HarpsShillelagh Coolboy
ConnachtSt Mary’s GAA Club Kiltubrid GAA, Ballinrobe GAA
Munster Glin GAA & Glin Emmets LGFA, Ballina, Inagh Kilnamona
Ulster Na Dúnaibh St. Malachy’s Castledawson, Butlersbridge