Nearly half of Irish parents are unaware of how far their kids are falling behind the weekly recommended exercise target.
In Ireland, it is recommended that children get a minimum of seven hours of exercise per week.
However, Irish children are only getting an average of less than two hours per week in 90% of secondary schools, according to research from Irish Life Health.
The insurance provider found that 42% of parents were unaware of the amount of physical activity their children were getting – with most of them vastly overestimating the total.
Nearly half of the parents surveyed said that their children didn’t play sports outside of school. Girls in particular, tend to reduce their physical activity by the time they start secondary school.
As well as surveying the opinions of parents, Irish Life Health also conducted a survey of over 70 Irish PE teachers.
The survey also revealed that more than half of the teachers believe the current PE syllabus needs to be changed.
Irish Life Health are launching their 2017 Schools Fitness Challenge in order to encourage secondary school students to get more exercise.
The programme has been developed with Professor Niall Moyna in the Centre for Preventive Medicine, Dublin City University (DCU).
It is a six-week programme which shows young people how simple it can be to improve their fitness over a short period of time
Over 100,000 Irish students have taken part since 2012.
Professor Moyna, Head of Health and Human Performance at DCU, said: “Physical education programmes in our schools have huge shortcomings, and the fact that so many of our children are overweight and unfit leaving school is clear proof of this.
“If our children were failing maths leaving school we would quickly look at why – and we need to do the same with PE as it’s simply not working the way it is taught in our schools. The current PE curriculum is in crisis and failing our children.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling