Olympians Thomas Barr and Lizzie Lee Launch the Irish Life Health Family Mile Challenge


Run a mile as a family and be a positive role model for your kids

With the welcome return to sport, Irish Life Health has launched the Family Mile Challenge with Athletics Ireland, to encourage families to continue to be active together. Research has shown that parents play a really important role in their child’s participation and enjoyment of sport1. They can support their children’s interest in sport by being role models themselves encouraging healthy movement with them. By running together as a family on the 26th & 27th of June, parents can celebrate the joy and simplicity of being active together as a family. The weekend challenge coincides with the Irish Life Health Track and Field national championships which will be the last opportunity for Ireland’s elite athletes to secure Olympic qualification.

European medallist Thomas Barr who finished fourth at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in the 400m Hurdles said: “I am really looking forward to competing at the national championships. When I started the sport of athletics at 8 years of age, I tried every discipline, and it took me a long time to find one I was good at! I really did not make any performance of note until I was 18.  Just before that, I was seriously thinking about giving up, but my parents encouraged me to keep going, to commit to just one more year and be patient. As my career progressed, they have been a huge emotional support. I wouldn’t be in the position I’m in today without their support and encouragement.”

Speaking at the launch Dr. Phil Kearney, lecturer in Skill Acquisition, Coaching and Performance (University of Limerick) said: “Research has shown that parents who are encouraging promote higher levels of physical activity in children2”. He added “And as we come out of lockdown and lives get busier again, family exercise may fall by the wayside. But every bit of physical activity counts, so families should try to keep that good habit in place especially when you consider that only 17% of primary children and 10% of post primary children meet the National Physical Activity Guidelines of at least 60 minutes activity each day3.”

Olympic Marathon runner Lizzie Lee was also speaking at the launch. She was inspired to be active by her parents’ who were both avid cyclists and she saw it as the norm to be physically active. Now as mum to three daughters, working full time as well as continuing to train as an elite athlete, she feels it is important that parents remember to find time to be active themselves. “When you are juggling lots of things, it can be hard to find time to be active, but it is possible and remember you are being a role model to your kids and helping your own physical and mental health too.” Research has found that children from families where both parents exercise regularly are almost six times more likely to be active than children from families where neither parent is active.4.

She added: “And I would definitely encourage families to sign up the Irish Life Health Family Mile Challenge. It is a manageable distance even for the smallies.  And they will feel a great sense of accomplishment in finishing it.  And there is a collective challenge too to see if all the miles clocked by families on that weekend can match the average mileage covered by an Irish International marathon runner in a year of 4,000 miles!”

Entry to the Irish life Health Family Mile Challenge is open today and is free of charge at www.irishlifehealth.ie/family-mile-challenge. Families who take part who are members of Athletics Ireland could also be in with a chance of winning a training session with Thomas Barr for their local athletics club.

Liz Rowen, Head of Marketing, Irish Life Health said: “We’re excited to be able to launch the Irish Life Health Family Mile Challenge. At Irish Life Health we are genuinely committed to supporting people to embrace a healthier lifestyle and being physically active and of course the first important step in that journey starts in childhood. This challenge will hopefully support both parents and their children to be active and have fun together. We’re also delighted to support clubs by giving them the opportunity to win a training session with Thomas Barr.”

Hamish Adams, Athletics Ireland CEO said: “We must thank Irish Life Health for their continued support in helping us to promote the sport of athletics across Ireland. In the last 18 months alone the support of Irish Life Health has directly impacted on over 280,000 individual people through Athletics Ireland run initiatives. We are delighted to launch this Family Mile Challenge to encourage and motivate people to stay active and healthy.”

Enter for free today. Click HERE.

  • Family-and school-based correlates of energy balance-related behaviours in 10–12-year-old children: a systematic review within the ENERGY (EuropeaN Energy balance Research to prevent excessive weight Gain among Youth) project. Verloigne, M., Van Lippevelde, W., Maes, L., Brug, J., & De Bourdeaudhuij, I. (2012).
  • Toward a better understanding of the link between parent and child physical activity levels: the moderating role of parental encouragement. Tate, E. B., Shah, A., Jones, M., Pentz, M. A., Liao, Y., & Dunton, G. (2015).
  • Only 10% of Irish post-primary school aged children met the National Physical Activity Guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day. Only 17% of primary school children met the National Physical Activity Guidelines of at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity every day.  The Children’s Sport Participation and Physical Activity Study 2018 (CSPPA 2018).
  • Influence of parents' physical activity levels on activity levels of young children. Moore, L. L., Lombardi, D. A., White, M. J., Campbell, J. L., Oliveria, S. A., & Ellison, R. C. (1991).

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