Derval O'Rourke: Why we need to stay active

Derval O'Rourke: Why we need to stay active

The Covid-19 restrictions had a very interesting positive impact on the activity levels of people in our country. According to the Sport Ireland Staying Active During Covid-19 research, 52% of people had completed the minimum amount of physical activity recommended over a one week period and sedentary levels were lower than ever before. Basically we are moving more in recent months than ever before. This week I’m chatting about staying active and sharing a family favourite breakfast recipe.

The Sport Ireland research revealed that Irish people reacted remarkably well to the difficulties of the Covid-19 restrictions with as many as 500,000 new recreational walkers. Below I’m sharing my personal favourite reasons to stay active:

1. Lower your risk of getting sick

If you are more physically active you lower your risk of many illnesses. As you get older and your function starts to decline a little, staying active will help slow that decline. Physical activity is also incredibly important for our mental health, and I’ve been making it a priority during the past few months to ensure I include activity most days. For me this is a combination of brisk walking, home workouts and some running.

2. Staying engaged with people

Being active can be a hugely social activity. I’ve really missed my walks and chats with friends. What has been a really lovely asset has been members of socialising through my private members group. I added Monday night live workout classes to my online offering because that connection through exercise was one I felt people really engaged with and it has been brilliant. Now that we’re seeing restrictions begin to lift, we can get out for a nice socially distant walk and chat too, which is something I’ll be sprinting back too.

3. It keeps you functional

If I could get everyone to do one thing for their bodies as they get older it would be to lift some weight. They don’t have to be big weights but they should be applicable for your ability. From the age of 30 we start to lose our muscle mass. Lifting weights helps prevent this and keeps us functioning efficiently. Remember each day you are physically challenged by small activities like getting in and out of your car, picking up your shopping etc.

4. It takes minimum time

There are 24 hours in each day. You can get a really efficient training session done in 30 minutes. You also don’t need a gym membership if you would prefer not to. You can achieve a huge amount at home.

I have weights in my garage that I use. You can pick up fairly inexpensive weights in loads of places. There a a great Irish company called that sell equipment.

I have been incorporating weights into the weekly live workouts on but we’ve been showing how you don’t need to have fancy weights - you can use a backpack, a bottle of water or as one member did - a bottle of wine!

5. It gives you perspective

Most of us are super busy and we live in a world where we want everything now. Taking time to exercise and get active gives me perspective. Each time I head to my garage to do a small weights circuit or put my runners on to go for a run I get a chance to stop and evaluate.

Having some perspective about what is important in life is essential for me and that’s probably the most vital reason for me to stay active.

Wellness Tip:

Remember to keep sipping your drink and stay hydrated. I like to add a squeeze of lemon and mint to my water.

Fitness Tip:

I asked my friends and members of what they wanted to concentrate on for their fitness in the summer months. The overwhelming answer was fitness that concentrated on toning up with short home workouts. Most felt they had put on a little weight recently and would like to tone up. For this reason I’m starting a 28 day tone at home challenge on and I’d love you to join me with a community of like-minded people.


Overnight Oats:

This recipe is one of the simplest breakfast solutions around, they can be made the night before ensuring you have a healthy breakfast ready and waiting for you on rising. I like to make my overnight oats in a jar. A kilner jar is perfect for this, just make sure that it doesn’t leak or spill. These are fantastic for fuelling up before or refuelling after your run. They really taste great and pack a nutritional punch.

Overnight Oats
Overnight Oats

As an ingredient oats slow release carbohydrates and fibre which means they keep you feeling fuller for longer and prevent crazy spikes in blood sugar levels. Milk is a great source of calcium and fat soluble vitamins plus protein. Berries are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Nuts and seeds are a perfect source of healthy fats and protein.

A complete breakfast, in a jar and the perfect base for a whole host of delicious toppings.

Prep time: 1 minute (and then popped into the fridge overnight)

Serves: 1


  • 50g jumbo porridge oats

  • 1 tsp chia seeds

  • 240ml milk (or water, if preferred)

  • To serve:

  • tbsp toasted nuts and seeds

  • Dollop natural yoghurt

  • Apple and cinnamon or peach and ginger puree

  • Method:

    Combine all of the ingredients, except the honey, in a bowl or container.

    Mix gently with a spoon.

    Place in the fridge overnight.

    Next morning, add toppings of choice and eat.

    More in this Section

    Niall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirusNiall Breslin talks about losing his uncle to coronavirus

    Podcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen toPodcast corner: Three new podcasts from Irish women that you should listen to

    How to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couchHow to attend the Galway Film Fleadh from the comfort of your own couch

    The best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summerThe best fiction books for the beach and beyond this summer

    Latest Showbiz

    The TV presenter said he wrote the first line when he was 14.Phillip Schofield says he has written ‘honest’ book about his life and career

    The actress is the subject of a new documentary, Olympia.Olympia Dukakis: I hope sharing past drug use and suicidal thoughts helps others

    More From The Irish Examiner