The gold medal standard of Northern Ireland’s Paralympians can act as inspiration for everyone here to get active, regardless of whether they have a disability or not, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has said.
Speaking as eight Paralympians from Northern Ireland prepare to compete in London, Colette Brolly, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager, PHA, said: “Some of the finest competitors at the London 2012 Paralympic Games hail from these shores, setting an excellent example for us all to get more active and increase the amount of physical activity we do.
“For example, Northern Ireland’s fastest man, Jason Smyth, will be hoping to match his 2008 double-gold success in the 100m and 200m, by winning again in London. Like his Olympic 100m and 200m counterpart, Usain Bolt, Jason is an athlete of global standing, and indeed has competed with able-bodied peers at the European Championships in 2010 and the World Championships in 2011.
“Meanwhile, Michael McKillop from Glengormley, who is the reigning Paralympic champion in the 800m, will also be hoping to retain his gold in London, cementing his reputation on the global stage.
“The world-class standards of Northern Ireland Paralympians inspire pride in us all, but should also act as a spur for us to follow in their footsteps. We don’t need to become Olympic or Paralympic athletes to benefit from physical activity though – moderate exercise can be enough to improve our health and wellbeing.”
Experts recommend that regular physical activity of at least 150 minutes of moderate activity a week for adults and older people and 60 minutes every day for kids is really important for good health and can reduce the risk of many diseases including heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, and colon cancer.
Adults and older people should try to be active daily and one way of achieving the recommended weekly activity levels is to be active for 30 minutes five days a week.
Colette Brolly added: “Some activity is better than none and people who have not been very active should try to build up gradually to the recommended levels. Adults, including older people, do not need to take 30 minutes of activity all at once, as it can be taken in 10-minute bouts throughout the day.
“It’s never too late – start with small changes to your daily routine. For example, you could go for a walk in the park, get out in the garden, play sport, go for swim in the local leisure centre, walk to the shops, and try to reduce the amount of time you spend sitting down watching TV or playing computer games.
“It’s also important for children and adults with a disability to be active too, and the reasons for participating are exactly the same for people with a disability as for those without.
“Northern Ireland’s world-class Paralympians might have reached the highest standards of performance, but their success and the pride it brings should act as an extra spur for us all to think about participating in sport and physical activity.”
For further information on getting active as a family visit www.getalifegetactive.com
Notes to the editor
For further information, please contact PHA Communications on 028 9055 3663
Northern Ireland’s Paralympic athletes are:
- Sharon Vennard, Classification: ST1 (ambulant disabled), Event – Archery
- Sally Brown, Classification: T46 (arm amputee), Event – Athletics 100m/200m
- Jason Smyth Classification: T13 (partially sighted), Event – Athletics 100m/200m
- Michael McKillop Classification: T37 (cerebral palsy) , Event – Athletics 800m/1,500m
- James Brown Classification: T13 (partially sighted), Event – Cycling
- Eilish Byrne Classification: Grade II (cerebral palsy), Event - Equestrian
- Bethany Firth Classification: S14 (learning disability), Event – Swimming
- Laurence McGivern Classification: S9 (double leg amputee), Event – Swimming
The Paralympic Games open on 29 August and close on 9 September