If you want your children to exercise it’s important to lead by example, writes Arlene Harris
WITH ever-changing technology and endless TV at the touch of a button, children are becoming increasingly sedentary. And with Ireland on course to join its UK counterparts as one of the fattest nations in Europe, getting the kids off the sofa and exercising regularly is more important than ever.
Liam O’Sullivan and his wife Anne have five children — Tadhg, 15, Ben 13, Grace, 12, Hugh, 9, and Meabh, 5 — and has managed to encourage them all to be active, not by force, but by example.
The portfolio manager has been involved in the Reign of Terror Obstacle Course Race in Kells, Co Kilkenny since its conception last year. And his children were so keen to participate in the adventurous event; they persuaded him to arrange a Mini-Terror version aimed at 13-to-17-year-olds which will debut this year on October 21.
“Last year was a huge success with nearly 1,000 participants taking part and fantastic feedback from everyone,” he says.
“But a customer survey showed us that we needed to cater for children. So I didn’t have to encourage any of mine to become involved as they begged me to try and arrange an event for their age group this year; which we did.
“Tadhg and Ben will both be doing it with their friends as they tested a few of the obstacles last year (before the adult event started) and really enjoyed the buzz from scaling a 12ft [3.5m] wall as part of a team or challenging themselves to crawl across a cargo net over the river.
“So this year, there will be a 5km event with approximately 30 obstacles for the youngsters to overcome. Some obstacles are man-made such as a 20ft curved ramp or monkey bars that will really test their grip. Natural obstacles include our beautiful Kings River and of course mud, we have lots and lots of mud. Plus with thanks to the support of the OPW we will be staging a medieval battle re-enactment and routing the event through the Priory grounds. It promises to be really spectacular.”
The event is open to those with a competitive streak and those who simply want to take part for the fun. Youth clubs and teams will be taking part together as a bonding exercise and the father of five says his whole family is looking forward to the adventure.
Liam and Anne and the two older boys will be taking part and while the others are too young to participate this year, they have their sights set on the future as they are well used to exercise.
“The kids all take part in sport, but we don’t tend to do things as a family as everyone’s sporting interests are so varied,” says the 45-year-old father.
“I only took up regular exercise about five years ago when mid-life crisis hit and I started cycling and then got into running.
“Anne also likes to run as she has a busy schedule and finds she can get a great workout in 30 minutes.
“Tadhg loves basketball, Ben has a competitive streak and enjoys the rough and tumble of a tight soccer match, Grace enjoys ladies football and swimming, Hugh plays hurling and soccer and Meabh recently started training with the girls’ U6 football team.
“So although we don’t tend to train together as a family because our sporting interests are quite diverse, we are all very active.”
The Kilkenny man says his family is proof that there is definitely something out there for everyone to enjoy.
“My advice to parents who want to find the right activity for their child is
to just keep looking,” he says.
“Our kids have probably tried most sports over the years and our philosophy as parents has been to allow them to explore a wide range of sports so they can find one they really enjoy and hopefully will be able to continue to play as they get older.
“Exercise is so important for physical wellbeing but also mental and emotional wellness and I find that it gives you a chance to get away from the dayto-day routine and get some mental headspace and time to think.
“If you can’t carve out three or four hours for a cycle, then just exercising for 30 minutes two or three times a week, will do the trick.
“And if you can’t jog then a brisk walk will suffice to get your heart rate up and get your blood pumping.
“When Anne started running she used the Couch to 5km App on her phone. It was brilliant as it starts getting you walking a few kilometres in the beginning, then introduces some jogging and in 10 weeks the app has you right up to running 5km.
“You don’t feel you are out of your depth at any stage. It’s a very gradual approach and great for getting back into regular exercise and sometimes the kids join in with Grace going along for the occasional 5km run.”
Reign of Terror and Mini Terror takes place at 9am on October 21. For more information see www.reignofterror.ie
“If you can’t carve out three or four hours for a cycle, then just exercising for 30 minutes two or three times a week, will do the trick
HIGH SPIRITS: Liam and Anne O’Sullivan with their children, Hugh, 9, Tadhg, 15, Ben, 14, Grace, 12, and Meabh 5 at Kells Priory, Co Kilkenny.