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Get Up and Go: Tullamore's Healthy Town journey begins

The Pfizer Healthy Town initiative is kicking off its Tullamore activity with Exercise Week and a free motivational event called Get up and Go

 

With six out of every 10 adults and one out of every four children in Ireland currently classed as overweight or obese, there is no time like the present to get moving and start burning calories.

This week is Exercise Week for the residents of Tullamore, the Pfizer Healthy Town 2017, and fitness expert Mary Jennings (of Forget the Gym) will lead a team of enthusiasts to help the townspeople spring into action. Starting at 6:30pm on September 14th in the Tullamore Court Hotel it's open to all and aims to get everyone thinking about their own personal fitness.

Over the course of the next eight weeks, fitness events will be taking place in various venues around the town and Eamonn Henry of Offaly County Council Sports Partnership says there is something to suit everyone. "There are numerous clubs and fitness providers in Tullamore, but our experience is that most adults have a preference for individual activity rather than team sport because of the flexibility it affords,” he says. “In this regard personal exercise, swimming, walking, jogging and cycling will be the most popular for adults.” 

SPORTS FACILITIES
“There are three swimming pools with gym facilities in the town,” says Henry.  “The Tullamore Harriers has a large membership of runners from beginner through to international competitors and the Tullamore Cycling club also caters for people at different levels.

“Former Olympian Pauline Curley organizes beginner jogging and also run Pilates classes and we are teaming up with her in September to run the 150-minute challenge for women.  This varied programme for women will involve three different activities - jogging, Pilates and aqua fit - each week over 10 weeks.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
Dr Julie Broderick, assistant professor in the department of physiotherapy at Trinity College, says there is an exercise (or several) to suit everyone – no matter how fit and able.

“Consider exercise on a spectrum from low intensity gentle walking to vigorous, high intensity triathlon training – so there is something to suit all abilities and disabilities,” she says. “Within that spectrum you could consider racket-based sports, water-based activities, structured sport-based activities like soccer or eastern-philosophy based activities such as yoga or many more. There are also excellent sports for wheelchair users and adaptations which can be made so people of all abilities can find a sport they enjoy.”

Not everyone is "sporty" or has a natural inclination or skill, so sports such as running or hill walking may suit – but Dr Broderick says enjoyment is the key to perseverance.

“It’s important to find something you enjoy because you are more likely to stick with it,” she says. “I would advise picking something which suits your ability and interests and has a social element to it, if possible. Also bear in mind that it will take time to get used to a new sport or activity. Be patient, sometimes you may not find enjoyment until you become fitter or more proficient. But stick with it and you will start to reap the benefits both physically and mentally.”

NO QUICK FIX
Eamonn Henry agrees and says it’s important to research your chosen activity and don’t be disappointed if you don’t see immediate results.

“I would encourage people to source a PAR-Q (Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire) online and if this suggests the need to consult your GP before starting physical activity do so - in fact, it is best practice to consult your GP in any event,” he advises.

Allow your body to adapt to the change in lifestyle and it will pay dividends down the line

“It’s also important to know that you are making a long-term commitment – it usually takes 10 weeks to change habits so make an initial commitment to yourself of two to three months before reviewing your next step. And don’t set unreal expectations, push yourself too hard too soon, or expect quick-fix solutions from exercise. Allow your body to adapt to the change in lifestyle and it will pay dividends down the line.

“Set yourself achievable goals, keep a diary of your activity and reward yourself or celebrate the achievement of a goal before setting a new one.”

BE PREPARED
It is good to set goals from the start and endeavour to achieve the minimum recommended levels of physical activity (150 minutes a week). “If this is not possible initially, be prepared to work towards this incrementally,” says Eamonn Henry.

“So set aside time in your daily routine for exercise or physical activity and prepare mentally for what you are going to do. The first four weeks are going to be the most difficult and it is here you will need to be at your strongest mentally.  After this you will find that you are capable of doing more than you ever imagined. 

“But look for help and support as necessary. Join a beginners group where you can get advice on designing a suitable programme for yourself. Exercise with others at a similar level if you need mutual support and also consider making complementary life changes.”

STAY MOTIVATED
Starting a new activity is easy, but it’s sticking to it which can be a problem. But sports psychologist Canice Kennedy says there are a number of ways in which people can go the distance.

  1. Change your mind-set to exercise: see it as part of an Active Lifestyle and NOT as a necessary evil.
  2. Think big but start small: set BIG long term goals but start with easy steps.
  3. Make it sociable and enjoyable: do it with friends and family.
  4. Tailor the exercise to your personal factors: age, gender, sporting experience, and health status.
  5. Vary the intensity, duration and frequency of the exercise: it’s OK to take an easy 15-minute walk when you don’t have the time to do more.
  6. Rest and recovery is part of an exercise routine: it’s ok to regularly take days off
  7. Go  public with your goals: tell colleagues, friends and family or put it on Facebook and use this to motivate yourself in times of doubt.
  8. Record your progress in your diary, phone or in the kitchen or office and remind yourself how well you are doing.
  9. Engage in a range of activities: swimming, walking, cycling or use the gym - but find something that you love doing.
  10.  Establish an exercise routine: schedule your exercise in the diary every week.
  11.  Do NOT beat yourself up if you stop: see it as a temporary break and look to get started again as soon as possible
  12. Look for opportunities to walk (instead of driving) in your weekly schedule: at lunch time, travelling to work or to the shops.
  13. Challenge your usual excuses and include solutions in your exercise plan.
  14. Generously reward yourself along the way for achieving your goals.

For more on the Healthy Town initiative see facebook.com/HealthyTownIreland/

Get up and Go: Mary Jennings will give a talk on how to start exercising and the benefits of running on September 14th at TheTullamore Court Hotel. The free event starts at 6.30pm and all are welcome