More than a third of 16-year-olds in Ireland are at risk of developing premature heart disease.
A new study has found that just 34% of girls and 41% of boys do not meet the minimum level of fitness needed for optimal heart health.
But substantial improvements can occur after as little as six weeks of regular exercise.
The findings are from the Irish Life Health School's Fitness Challenge - a collaboration between DCU and Irish Life Health.
The challenge is the largest fitness study of its kind in Ireland, and now the third largest in the world. Now in its seventh year, over 172,000 children have taken part. With a focus on preventive and proactive healthcare, it aims to show that small steps, through a six-week challenge, can make real, impactful changes to fitness levels.
Irish Olympian and Ambassador for the programme Thomas Barr says exercise can change your life:
More than a third of 16 year olds are at risk of poor heart health. @TomBarr247 has these tips for young people on how to get active to launch the @irishlifehealth #SchoolsFitnessChallenge pic.twitter.com/xITCwqeBMj
— Kim Buckley (@KiiimBuckley) September 10, 2018