Waterford research records significant health benefits for men

As part of Men’s Health Week, Minister Catherine Byrne TD, Minister of State for Health Promotion launched the Men on the Move Evaluation Report earlier this week.

The Men on the Move programme, a male-focused wellness programme, was developed and evaluated to identify how best to engage men in their health and wellbeing through physical activity.

The report was commissioned by the HSE to investigate how Local Sports Partnerships together with the HSE and partners could use physical activity as a hook for engaging with men about their health and wellbeing. This evaluation report highlights how the men who successfully engaged in a 12 week physical activity programme reduced their weight and improved their overall health and wellbeing.

As a result, the HSE is currently increasing the roll out of the Men on the Move programme in conjunction with Local Sports Partnerships (LSPs) and Sport Ireland to twelve local authority areas and a training programme is being rolled out to support LSPs to deliver on this programme.

Dr Paula Carroll, a lecturer in the Department of Sports and Exercise Science at WIT and Principal Investigator on the project said, “It’s evident that Men On the Move appealed to many men in this study and their consistent engagement yielded many significant health and social benefits.  Through increasing their aerobic fitness and reducing their waist circumference in particular, cardiovascular disease risk was reduced by between 8 and 20%."

“Most importantly, men reported that they had fun while participating. Allowing men to participate at their own pace among a group of male peers in their local community created a good environment where they could learn about physical activity and health and achieve things they never thought they could do.  It’s absolutely fantastic that the HSE and Sport Ireland are supporting the national roll out of this programme for the benefit of all men in Ireland.”

Male obesity has more than tripled since 1990 with currently, just 30% of men in Ireland being of ‘normal’ weight. Notably, central or abdominal obesity, which is more specific to men, is linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease, and some cancers.  

The Healthy Ireland Survey 2016 found that over 60% of male respondents aged 35-54 years wanted to increase their physical activity levels. Strong evidence shows that physical activity promotes health and wellbeing and offers critically important protection against many of these chronic conditions.

The HSE funded Men on the Move programme evaluation study sought to compare the health-related outcomes of those who took part in the programme and those who had yet to take part in the programme.  For the purposes of the study, the programme was initially delivered in eight local authority areas, culminating in a celebratory 5km event in each county. Participants were evaluated at baseline and twelve weeks and followed up at twenty-six weeks and fifty-two weeks.

Findings indicate the strong positive value the Men on the Move programme has to the health and wellness of those involved, both in the short and longer term. Body weight, BMI and waist circumference were reduced with significant health-related risk reduction as a result. 

Launching the report Minister Catherine Byrne TD said “This Men’s Health Week I am delighted to mark the success of the ‘Men on the Move’ initiative and to see the plans for its further development in 2019 with more Local Sports Partnerships coming on board around the country."

“Our aim in Healthy Ireland is to create a place where everyone can enjoy good physical and mental health, and when it comes to acknowledging and focusing on the particular health challenges experienced by men, we are leading the charge. Our National Men’s Health Action Plan commits to supporting and encouraging men in Ireland to be healthier and more active in their community through projects like ‘Men on the Move’."

“I want to commend both the HSE and the research team in Waterford Institute of Technology for their work on this evaluation report, but most importantly I wish to congratulate the men who participated in the programme and took that important first step towards improving their own health and wellbeing.”

Sarah O’Brien, National Lead, Healthy Eating Active Living Programme, HSE, Health & Wellbeing, commenting on the significance of this study said: “The HSE commissioned this evaluation to identify the evidence and best practice for the delivery of a community-based health promotion programme targeting men’s health."

"We have been working with Sport Ireland and Waterford Institute of Technology to expand access to the Men on the Move programme on a phased basis across the network of Local Sports Partnerships. All eight local authorities who took part in the evaluation process have continued to deliver the programme with another four local authorities signing up during 2019 to participate” 

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