Thursday 20 June 2019

How I stay healthy - Brigid Doherty, CEO of Patient Focus

'You feel like you can solve the problems of the world'

Brigid Doherty (right) after a run with daughter Sinead and grandkids Lexi and Callie
Brigid Doherty (right) after a run with daughter Sinead and grandkids Lexi and Callie

In association with the Health Service Executive

Brigid Doherty may be 65, but she’s not letting that slow her down. The CEO of Patient Focus, who lives in Blanchardstown in Dublin, is more active in her seventh decade than at any other time in her life — playing tennis twice a week, getting out for a 7km run most evenings after work and completing a solid 10km run every Saturday and Sunday.

How does she find the time, while still working full time? “I come in from work around 5.30pm and then go straight out,” she says. “For me, the benefits are that it’s great headspace, and you feel like you can solve the problems of the world when you’re running.”

Although Brigid has always enjoyed being active — even while raising her two children and working full time as a nurse and as a nurse manager — it’s only in later life that she’s become such a devoted runner.

“I’ve played tennis since I was about 40, usually around twice or three times a week. Then one day I was playing against my son-in-law and he remarked that I probably needed to be fitter, and that might have kickstarted all the running! I admit that I’m a little bit competitive and I like to win,” says Brigid.

“So I started regularly walking, initially, walking at my own pace and then starting doing a little bit of a jog, then after a mile or so, I’d stop and walk again.

“I gradually built that up and always had a focus on increasing the distance. Then one day, I remember being out one night running with my daughter, and realising I’d run a full 5km without stopping. I was so excited — and I have never looked back.

“I prefer running outdoors because it totally clears your head. I run down the canal towards Ashtown, and I love watching the ducks on the water and hearing the kids playing football. I sometimes go out in the early mornings in the dark as well.”

She adds, “I need to stay active as I get older, as I was diagnosed with osteoporosis a few years back. Then three years after the diagnosis, I had a Dexa scan which revealed that I had reversed the problem a lot, and I think that’s because the exercise I was doing increased the blood supply to the bone. “I’m aware of what a painful condition osteoporosis can be, so all of this is very important to me.”

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