With two young children and a third on the way, Sarah Kelly and husband Paddy practise what they preach when it comes to teaching kids healthy lifestyle choices.
“We show, for example, that physical activity is part of our daily routine and that it’s as important to us as going to work,” says Kelly who is exercise physiologist at DCU School of Health and Performance.
“No matter how busy your day, physical activity shouldn’t be the first thing you cut out. It should be a priority.”
To ensure exercise happens in a busy schedule, the couple know each other’s weekly plans.
“We alternate who is going to work out before going to work. The other parent steps up and takes responsibility for the kids that morning.
"So when Jake (four) and Cooper (two) wake up, first thing they ask is ‘mummy/daddy in the gym?’
Having met through super league basketball, Paddy still plays basketball once a week and goes to the gym.
Kelly ‘found’ CrossFit a year ago.
“It gives me as much as team sports gave me. It varies how often I go, nothing short of at least three times weekly and up to five or six days”, says the busy mum, who finds parents often don’t prioritise their own health.
“They can be selfless and give up a lot they enjoy. It won’t be the kids’ activities they’ll cut out. Their own self-care or exercise will be sacrificed first.
"And yet, when people become parents they realise their own physical and mental health is important. They’ve got little people relying on them.”
Kelly was speaking following Irish Life’s launch of new app MyLife, designed to empower users to monitor/actively participate in their own healthcare.
MyLife gives overall health-score based on physical/emotional/lifestyle factors and is underpinned by scientific research.
It encourages users to select/set monthly fitness, nutrition or lifestyle goals.
Points are earned by completing goal, tracking exercise, getting sufficient sleep, answering health coach questions and tracking weight.
Prof Niall Moyna, DCU Centre for Preventive Medicine, says many medical conditions result from poor lifestyle choices: inactivity, smoking, inadequate sleep, alcohol over-consumption.
“MyLife monitors lifestyle changes, e.g. increasing physical activity, [showing] how impactful small actions are on individuals’ health score.”