SSI Launches Major Study on Third Level Student Physical Activity.

February 25, 2016  |  News, Research  |  Share

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64% of Irish Third Level Students Highly Active Study Finds.

A year long study of Irish third level students has found that 64% are highly active and are more active than the general population across comparable age groups.  This is the key findings of the Student Activity and Sports Study Ireland (SASSI) of over 250,000 third level students launched today by Student Sport Ireland at its offices at the National Sports Campus.

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The study which was undertaken to investigate sport and physical activity participation, preferences and provision at third level, and which surveyed over 9,000 students in 31 third level colleges north and south, found that 70% of students participate in individual based activities such as cardio classes, weight training, circuit training and exercise to music.

However the research findings also indicates that only 40% of students actively commute to college by walking or cycling. Active commuting is recognised as a means of increasing overall physical activity levels and improving overall health. With 79% of those students who indicated that they were “inactive” travelling to college using motorised transport the researchers suggest that active transport may be a viable way of increasing daily physical activity levels amongst the student population.

Student Activity and Sports Study Ireland (SASSI) Report Launch Kilkenny hurler Kevin Kelly (IT Carlow), Mayo footballer Sarah Rowe (DCU), Catherine McManus (DCU) from athletics, Ireland women's international soccer player Rachel Graham (IT Carlow), and Dublin footballer Jack McCaffrey (UCD)

Kilkenny hurler Kevin Kelly (IT Carlow), Mayo footballer Sarah Rowe (DCU), International sprinter Catherine McManus (DCU), Ireland women’s international soccer player Rachel Graham (IT Carlow) and Dublin footballer Jack McCaffrey (UCD) launch the SASSI Report.

The study, commissioned and published by Student Sport Ireland with the support of Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland, was undertaken by a consortium of researchers from Ulster University, Dublin City University, University of Limerick and Waterford Institute of Technology.

Student Sport Ireland Hon. Chairperson Ms Carmel Lynch “Student Sport Ireland welcomes the challenge to address the findings of this comprehensive report through its strategic direction over the next few years. While we are encouraged by the high level of participation and activity, there are areas which are highlighted in the report that Student Sport Ireland and member colleges can work together to address such as the provision of facilities and programmes for students with a disability, initiatives to develop active commuting and gender balance in supporting our high performing athletes”.

Mr Brian Mullins, Director of Sport at University College Dublin and who led the team that coordinated the study on behalf of Student Sport Ireland, outlined the rationale for undertaking the study said “Due to the absence of any solid data or accurate information on ‘sport and physical activity’ within the Irish third-level sector, Student Sport Ireland set out to establish with the membership what precisely was the situation not only in the overall colleges setting but also at individual sites. This report provides an accurate and substantiated description on the current situation regarding sports facilities infrastructure and exercise and physical activity behaviour at Irish third level educational colleges

John Treacy, Chief Executive Sport Ireland commented: “I would like to congratulate Student Sport Ireland on the successful delivery of this extensive research study which is the first ever all-island study on sports participation within a third level context.  The value of participating in sport and physical activity cannot be underestimated; even small improvements in participation levels will confer health, social and economic benefits both for the individual and for society as a whole. I am delighted to say that 64% of students are ‘highly active’, and deemed sufficiently active to meet the recommended physical activity guidelines for health”.

Student Activity and Sports Study Ireland (SASSI) Report Launch Dr. Marie Murphy, Research Team leader, Carmel Lynch, Hon. Chairperson, Student Sport Ireland, John Treacy, Sport Ireland CEO, Brian Mullins, SSI Research Monitoring Group, Ian McAvoy, Sport Northern Ireland Vice Chair, and Dr. Niamh Murphy, SASSI Research Team  Mayo footballer Sarah Rowe (DCU), , Ireland women's international soccer player Rachel Graham, and

Prof Marie Murphy, Research Team leader, Carmel Lynch, Hon. Chairperson, Student Sport Ireland, John Treacy, Sport Ireland Chief Executive, Brian Mullins, SSI Research Monitoring Group Chairperson, Ian McAvoy, Sport Northern Ireland Vice Chair, and Dr. Niamh Murphy, SASSI Research Team

 

Sport Northern Ireland Vice Chair Ian McAvoy said “On behalf of Sport Northern Ireland, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate Student Sport Ireland on what I believe to be ground-breaking research. Given the number of young adults progressing to third-level education, the potential of colleges on the Island of Ireland to influence participation in sport and physical activity is vast and based on some of the key findings highlighted there are good news stories to reflect on and in many cases celebrate”.

Ciarán Ó hlarnáin, Development Manager, Student Sport Ireland, John Kerrane, SASSI Research Manager, Peter Smyth, Director of Research, Sport Ireland, Dr Paul Donnelly, Policy, Planning and Research Manager, Sport Northern Ireland, Niamh O'Callaghan, Sports Officer DIT, and Brian Mullins, Director of Sport, UCD.

Ciarán Ó hlarnáin, Development Manager, Student Sport Ireland, John Kerrane, SASSI Research Manager, Peter Smyth, Director of Research, Sport Ireland, Dr Paul Donnelly, Policy, Planning and Research Manager, Sport Northern Ireland, Niamh O’Callaghan, Sports Officer DIT, and Brian Mullins, Director of Sport, UCD.

Prof. Marie Murphy, Professor of Exercise and Health at Ulster University, and who led the Research Team that undertook the research stated “This is the first comprehensive study of the physical activity and sporting behaviours of third level students in Ireland. An audit of provision for sport and physical activity, combined with survey data from over 9,000 students and objective measurements of activity and fitness in over 400 students provides a rich source of information for researchers, policy makers, third level institutions and Student Sport Ireland. We hope this research will help guide future provision and the implementation of interventions designed to further increase participation at an important time of transition when lifelong physical activity and sporting habits may be established”.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • Male students are more active than female students with 71% of them being highly active compared to 58% of females
  • 1 in 7 students are members of a sports club
  • The top 5 participation sports in and out of college are Exercise (i.e. cardio classes, weight training, circuit training and exercise to music), Gaelic Football, Soccer, Running and Walking
  • Social influence was the main determinant of participation within colleges with the odds of participation 57% lower if a student felt that s/he ‘did not have anyone to do physical activity with’
  • 6,700 scholarships were awarded between 2009 to 2013
  • Colleges spend approximately €11m per annum in current investment in sport and physical activity
  • Colleges expect to invest €50m from 2015 to 2019 in capital spending on sport.

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