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Get out and enjoy life - shopping is no way of interacting as a family

So, how was your bank holiday? Or at least, how is it going so far? Been up to anything interesting with the family? If you are like 59pc of the population, you might already have spend a while cruising the shops, centres or malls, because according to a survey by Aviva, that's the most popular activity Irish families opt for when it comes to spending time together.

We're more likely to shop than walk, hike or go to the park, which score in the mid-fifties in terms of popularity, while 41pc of families will spend less than an hour engaged in physical activity together.

Now, no one is saying that we all have to be Eamonn Coghlans about the whole thing, but we really are a pretty sedentary lot.


The survey was carried out to mark Aviva's sponsorship of the RTE TV show Ireland's Fittest Families and disappointingly revealed that while at least half of adults exercise three to five times per week on their own, one in three adults with children never take part in any physical activities with their family. None. Nada.

So it's all well and good going out for a run or hitting the gym for personal development, but parents, it seems, aren't encouraging their kids to follow suit. Surely we don't want to become a nation of Wayne and Waynetta Slobs?

I get that exercise can very much be a solo pursuit, but it's a pity that it seems to be so boxed off, that when coming together as a family, the preference is rather to cruise the walkways of a shopping centre, or hit the department stores and retail parks rather than crank up the pace in an open green space.

According to the National Guidelines on Physical Activity for Ireland - Get Ireland Active - adults over the age of 18 need at least 30 minutes a day of moderate activity, five days a week.

Children and teenagers aged between two and 18 need at least 60 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity. So, surely the most fun way to achieve even part of this is together?

I remember as a kid, and then as a teenager, not being wholly thrilled when my parents would suggest a climb up Killiney Hill, or a walk around Glendalough followed by a picnic.

The weather was usually rotten, the picnic ended up being in the car rather than the great outdoors, and I was no doubt missing something I was dying to watch on TV (it was before the days of Sky Plus), but I always felt great afterwards. And as a family, we definitely chatted about more, interacted more and grew together more as a unit.


I see the same now, married to my sporty husband. We both did Hell and Back in September - the same course that Ireland's Fittest Families have to negotiate - and it was far more thrilling, fun and fulfilling than a mall crawl. We bonded so much more over it too.

Exercising, or doing things together that involve real physical activity is about being a participant in life. About getting those feel-good hormones going, relieving a bit of stress and really being yourself in good company. What's not to like? Sure, it's easier to stay on the sofa watching re-runs of X Factor, or hitting up the high street for some passive entertainment, but compare how you feel afterwards between the options?