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Why being active helps your health

By staying active, you can reduce your chances of developing a chronic disease by up to 50%. Read about the benefits of active living.

You can transform your life by being physically active. Exercise helps with not only your physical health but your mental health. It releases chemicals in your brain (endorphins) that have a positive effect on your mood and your body.

It doesn't take huge changes. Start small. Just keep moving, whatever your age or ability. You’ll feel better, have more energy and even live longer.

Get fit to reduce risks to your health

Only 1 out of every 3 people in Ireland is active on a regular basis. Most people aged over 65 in Ireland are inactive. 4 out of 5 children in Ireland are still not getting enough exercise. All of this creates serious risks to your health and wellbeing.

By staying active, you can reduce the risk of as many as 35 chronic diseases.

That includes:

  • cancer
  • heart disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • stroke
  • osteoporosis
  • depression

Starting a fitness habit can help with other problems too, including:

  • bone health
  • breathing difficulties
  • high blood pressure
  • physiological and social issues

Being physically active can reduce your chances of developing a chronic disease by up to 50%, as well as reducing the risk of premature death by 20% to 30%.

Get fit and see your life improve

For everyone, being physically active helps to:

  • drastically reduce the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, strokes and cancer
  • keep your weight at a healthy level
  • build your muscle tone and strength
  • make you feel happier by reducing feelings of stress, anxiety and depression
  • improve the quality of your sleep and your daily life
  • increase your energy levels
  • boost your self-esteem
  • add years to your life - up to 50% of our decline in health is actually caused by not being active

Getting fit if you’re older

Staying active into older age is the key to staying mobile and independent. Just keep moving.

If you’re older, fitness activities can:

  • reduce your risk of osteoporosis
  • increase the chance of staying pain-free
  • maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints
  • improve your balance and coordination
  • make it more likely that you can live independently
  • give you opportunities to make and strengthen social bonds

Related topic

How to improve your fitness

Encouraging active play in children

Being physically active is really important for babies, toddlers and children.

Encouraging children to be active can help:

  • develop their muscles, bones, balance and senses
  • develop and strengthen social and emotional bonds
  • establish a lifetime habit of being active
  • reduce their risk of ill health as an adult
  • make children feel great about themselves

If you’re a parent and you’re getting active regularly, the evidence is that your children are more likely to be active.

Fitness as a family helps to:

  • reinforce family bonds
  • provide extra motivation for everyone
  • encourage a sense of wellbeing

Related topic

Teaching your children to be active

Fitness if you have a disability or health condition

Whether you have a temporary or chronic condition, illness or disability, you can improve your health by keeping active.

Regular physical activity is very important in managing many chronic diseases. These include cancer, diabetes, arthritis and asthma.

Talk to your GP if you are worried about exercising with a health condition, disability or illness.

Related topic

Being active with a health condition or disability

Get active easily

It’s easier than you think to get into a regular fitness habit - you don’t even need to join a gym or buy equipment.

Some physical activity is better than none, and the more you do, the more health benefits you get.

Most health benefits occur with at least 30 minutes moderate activity 5 days a week, for example being able to walk a mile in 15 minutes.

Related topics

Fitness for your lifestyle

Healthy eating for families

Page last reviewed: 30/01/2019
Next review due: 30/01/2022