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Me and my health: 'I find running is fantastic for clearing my head'

A quick read with someone in the public eye: Jim Dennison

By Helen Carson

The 44-year-old is the chief executive officer at the Simon Community, Northern Ireland. He lives in Lisburn with wife Frances and their children Eabha, (5), Ana, (2) and Caolan (19 months).

Do you take regular exercise - and if so, what?

I started running regularly after friends asked me to be part of a team in a charity marathon relay a few years ago. Now I run eight miles at least twice a week, with a big run at the weekend. I also take part in 10k races quite regularly for charity, two of which are for the Simon Community.

What's the worst illness you have had?

Nothing serious, thankfully. I had flu - the real thing, not man flu - about 12 years ago, which was awful, but apart from that I've been very lucky with my health.

How healthy is your diet?

While I'm no angel, it is mostly okay. I cannot function without breakfast, so I usually have porridge, a high fibre cereal or fresh fruit, although there is a cafe right beside our office which does the best sausage baguettes ever. For lunch I like hearty foods and my wife makes great bolognese, soups, stews and chilli, so I bring some of that into work with me to heat up. In the evening Frances and I have dinner after the children have gone to bed. We both enjoy cooking, so it will be pasta or fish. We also have an Indian takeaway once a week.

Any bad habits?

Occasionally skipping meals, especially if I am out and about with work. I also have the sweetest tooth and cannot resist chocolate. My favourite treats are McVitie's Chocolate Digestive biscuits.

Do you drink and/or smoke - if so, how much?

I don't smoke, but I like to drink beer. However, with three children I don't like having a hangover, so it doesn't happen very often. I like Japanese rice beer, which is lighter and you don't suffer the after-effects of it quite so much the next day.

Do you take any health supplements?

Usually I reach for the vitamin C as a reaction to taking a cold rather than taking it every day as a precaution.

How do you take time out?

I like to go running as I find it is fantastic for clearing the head and it gives me time of my own. Playing with my children is also a great way to wind down and I try to make time to do this every day. I also love live music - actually I'm a big heavy metal fan and will be going to see Black Sabbath soon.

How well do you sleep?

As a father of three children I have had quite a few sleepless nights, getting up for feeds and nappy changes, but broken sleep doesn't stop me functioning or doing anything that I need to do. I have learned to manage on a lot less sleep than before.

Do you worry about getting old?

I genuinely don't worry about getting old. I am taking care of myself now, so I can enjoy that part of my life.

What is your go-to product/habit that keeps you feeling healthy?

Going for a swim - while I'm not a strong swimmer I really enjoy splashing around and it is great for de-stressing and for giving tired limbs a boost.

The Simon Community Northern Ireland is looking for people to be part of its 20 teams taking part in next year's marathon to help raise money and awareness of the charity's work. For further information, tel: 028 90 232 882 and ask for the fundraising team, which can send out information packs. The Simon Community Northern Ireland Helpline, tel: 0800 171 2222

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