Belfast Telegraph

Biting Back: Life's real heroes are living among us

By Declan Bogue

Sunday morning and, driving through Cookstown, dozens of joggers could be spotted. Once you crossed into Co Derry, the joggers gave way to cyclists.

Carn Wheelers were hosting an event, but all through the towns and villages of Moneymore, Magherafelt and beyond, single cyclists and bunches filled the roads.

Ten years ago, cycling in this country was seen as a frivolous eccentricity. There were probably more people pursuing pipe-smoking.

It was in this reverie that you consider how health conscious we have become.

Three decades ago, there were twice as many heart attacks in Northern Ireland.

In 2011, around 1,900 people died from coronary heart disease; 1,100 men and 800 women. Compare that to 1981, when 4,900 people died from the condition. Stark reading.

There is plentiful evidence that we now live more sedentary lives than generations before us, but equally we are living through a generation where people have never been more health conscious.

The idea of an entire industry springing up such as personal trainers would have been unthinkable two decades ago. Now, there are some who specialise in women-only, to forgo the initial embarrassment some might feel at beginning to exercise regularly.

Every day you read about the lives of many sports stars and how they function. But the real heroes are out there on the road among us, doing what they can in plain view.

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