The Government has launched a new national initiative to promote health and wellbeing across the country.
The Healthy Ireland campaign is encouraging people to get out, get active and eat well in 2018.
An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined the crew from RTÉ’s Operation Transformation in Croke Park this morning to kick-start the initiative.
Launched to coincide with the New Year, the plan calls on the public to take those first steps towards improving their physical health and mental wellbeing.
The campaign provides support and information to help people make healthier choices in three key areas – healthy eating, getting active and minding your mental health.
Kate O'Flaherty director of health and wellbeing at the Department of Health says even the smallest steps can make a real difference:
“The key messages for people really are to just take small steps and small changes can make a big difference to your health and wellbeing,” she said.
“Sometime if you are trying to give up the cigarettes or to lose weight or you are worried about how much you are drinking or you are not active enough, it can seem like a big deal to make those changes.
“But we want to get people thinking about small changes – start small, the most important thing is to start.”
The 2018 programme aims to build upon three years of Healthy Ireland which has worked on developing policies to address major public health challenges in Ireland – including obesity, smoking and physical inactivity.
Although the plan has been launched to coincide with the New Year, Ms O’Flaherty said there is wrong time to make positive changes in your life:
"Sometimes this time of year people find all the focus on it as a motivation and as I say there is lots of activity so sometimes that makes it easier – you are not on your own trying to make the change, you can join other things that are going on,” she said.
“The other thing then is that some people might feel that that is a bit of pressure and maybe I’ll start in February instead – that is fine too.
“There is no wrong time to start as long as people know the important thing is to start.”
You can visit gov.ie/healthyireland to find out about the changes you can make in your life - and to find resources, tips and ways to get involved.