Olympic runner David Gillick believes Ireland is at a crossroads health wise
Olympian David Gillick believes Ireland is at a crossroads health wise.
Though the Covid-19 pandemic created unprecedented upheaval in the health service, a tsunami of other health related issues is hurtling down the tracks.
"Perhaps this is the moment we realise changes are needed in our lifestyles," said Gillick.
Speaking recently on RTE's Brendan O'Connor Show, British doctor, TV producer and health guru Michael Mosley said Ireland had one of the highest rates of hypertension - high blood pressure - and one of the lowest rates of diagnosis in the world.
"The figures are awful," said Mosley, who revealed that a Lancet study found that 56 percent of Irish males and 43 percent of female have hypertension - and much of it is undiagnosed.
Gillick, an advocate for both physical and mental health, believes the pandemic has created more challenges for people wanting to stay healthy.
"A lot more people are staying at home or working from home and arguably are sitting for longer each day because they no longer commute. We could easily be sitting for an extra ten hours a week.
"This has an impact on our bodies, and we know from research that this can lead to health issues down the line. I would also be very passionate about looking after our mental health as well. Feeling good about yourself impacts directly on our physical well-being. They go hand in hand. During the pandemic a lot of our communications has gone virtual and we are not meeting people face-to-face as much, which impacts on mental health."
Gillick advocates doing a regular mental as well as a physical MOT.
"Something I have learned through my own journey and working with counsellors would be to give yourself a bit of a scan by measuring your stress levels on a score chart from one to five, with five being most stressful.
"The next question is: 'Who do I confide in?' Hopefully there is someone in your life who when they ask: 'How was your day?' instead of just saying 'It was grand' you can actually say 'I've had a crap day'."
Gillick suggests that Parkruns - now fully operational after being suspended at the start of the pandemic - are well worth doing.
"My message is you can walk the 5km. It is suitable for everyone regardless of their fitness level. I've seen people run the distance in 14 or 15 minutes or take 45 minutes to complete it."
David Gillick supports Vhi’s sponsorship of parkrun’s Start With campaign. He’s calling on people to start their new year with parkrun, by either walking, jogging, running or volunteering. Parkruns take place over a 5km course weekly, are free to enter and are open to all ages and abilities, providing a fun and safe environment to enjoy exercise. To register for a parkrun near you visit www.parkrun.ie.
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