UL’s first podcast series is now available on the UL Research Impact podcast channel. The series explores the tremendous contributions UL research is making in the real world. Featured on the podcast channel is the 2015 case study ‘A nation of couch potatoes – Physical activity in Ireland’ which explains the research of PESS faculty Prof. Alan Donnelly and Dr. Ciarán MacDonncha and PESS postgraduate students Gráinne Hayes and Cormac Powell, who are working to address the epidemic of sedentary behaviour in Ireland.
Effective national level health guidelines and policy must be based on accurate information about how physical activity and sedentary behaviour contribute to health. The Health Research Institute (HRI) recorded Professor Alan Donnelly and Dr. Ciarán MacDonncha in 2016 talking about the impact of their research. Professor Alan Donnelly explains: “Low levels of physical activity are attributed to 6-10% of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer and over 20% risk of Alzheimer’s disease in Europe.” In their research, Alan and Ciarán along with PESS PhD Students Gráinne Hayes and Cormac Powell apply technology to accurately measure levels of physical activity and sedentary behaviour. They have related these findings to health indices and behavioural determinants.
Previous research of Prof. Donnelly’s highlighted alarmingly high levels of sedentary behaviour among female teenagers in Ireland with 79% of their total day or 19 hours spent lying or siting down. Dr. Ciarán Mac Donncha indicates the importance of this research “Our research has had a significant impact on national policy. National physical activity guidelines, a dedicated dissemination platform for these guidelines, and a national physical activity plan comprise a sea change for promotion of physical activity in Ireland. UL has made a significant contribution to these achievements”.