Many ways to exercise our body and give our mind a break


It’s health season in the Irish Times. In print and online, we’ll be offering encouragement and inspiration to help us all improve our physical and mental health in 2022. See

It was without a doubt the weirdest two years most of us have ever known, and with recurring blockages, a lot of the things we took for granted have been denied to us. But despite all the restrictions, exercising outside was a constant, and for this reason, many people continued or started running, cycling, swimming, walking and more in the open. air.

Around the same time last year, we thought Covid-19 was coming to an end. Now we’re not so sure, but as we head into 2022 we can be reassured that whether or not another lockdown occurs, and no matter how bad our purse strings are. tight, there are still many ways we can exercise our bodies and give our minds a break.


Paul Dunphy lives at Stoneybatter in Dublin 7 with his partner, Steve, and their foster dog, Gabby. The social media consultant started cycling 12 years ago and says he can’t imagine his life without it as it adds a positive note to every day. “Cycling is a real boon to my health, both physically and mentally, and I look forward to it every day. It’s when I listen to music and podcasts and sing loudly – usually to Cher, Madonna, Kylie, and AC / DC – as I cycle near the deer in the park. It’s also great for clearing my head, and I instantly feel lifted up once I start. I also get a lot of ideas for clients from social media and the activity is great for planning as well.

Bicycle parking on College Green, Dublin.  Photography: iStock

Bicycle parking on College Green, Dublin. Photography: iStock

“The only negatives to watch out for are people ignoring cyclists – and also bugs, because once or twice I’ve been slapped in the face by flying bees in the summer.

“In these crazy times we live in, I think it’s vital that you have an outlet where you can turn off the news bulletins that bombard us every day and take a break, even for a short time. You will feel better about it in many ways. So I would recommend buying a suitable bike and giving cycling a try.


Authentic Path Coach and Author Caroline Cunningham lives in Carlow and says her daily life improves as she walks in nature and wanders through the local countryside. “There were times in my life when my mind was so low that I felt I couldn’t lift my body to walk – but luckily those days are over and walking was a big part of that.

“So my walks are important for both my mental well-being and my physical health, and I walk wherever I can, even if it’s only in the garden. Luckily I now live near Carlow Municipal Park and the river so there are a few routes I can do which gives me a bit of variety. I also like to walk on a beach or in the woods because the energy of nature does wonders for my mood and I feel more focused afterwards.

“I use the walk to meditate and feel alive, and this is a chance to reset my batteries and start over with new determination and focus. I vary my walking style and speed to achieve different results and use a variety of fitness apps.

“So for example I have Google Fit, which shows a map of my route, keeps track of my heart points [effort] and shows my weekly goals against the WHO recommended goals for adults. I also really like the Nike Run Club app, which can be used for walking or running. It records all your activities and keeps you company by showing your average pace and distance traveled. There are also recorded coach sessions for training.

“I work with professionals and business owners to help them achieve their goals by improving and maintaining their focus, and walking is on my list of strategies – because although it is a freely accessible thing that people able-bodied people can do, many find it difficult to maintain an exercise routine. This is because there are so many pressures and demands on our attention, so the care of the self is delayed – so when burnout occurs, you are forced to stop. It happened to me in 1999, so today I take better care of myself, and walking is one of the ways I do it.


Raymond Murphy of Cork is an avid but novice runner, having taken to the streets in the first lockdown. He says that while he won’t be competing in a marathon anytime soon, he stays in shape, both mentally and physically. “I’ve always been too busy with my job (as an accountant) to exercise much, but when I found myself working from home last year, I knew I needed an outlet. to clear my head and get out of the house.

“I wouldn’t have been the fittest guy in the world, but I figured I would put on my seldom-used sneakers and see how I fared with the jogging. The first few times I did it it was horrible and I did more walking than running and I was glad my house was quite rural as there weren’t too many spectators. But over time I increased the number of days I went out and went from running one minute at a time, little by little, until I was able to run 30 minutes at the start of this. year.

“I’m still not the fastest runner in the world, but now I really like it and try to run at least three days a week. At this point, I can’t imagine my life without him.


Hazel Joy works for Kerry County Council and runs her own travel blog ( – but she also finds time to enjoy the beauty of her surroundings with a variety of different activities.

“Beaufort is a large parish with even bigger mountains – MacGillycuddy’s Reeks and I live only a 10 minute drive from the Carrauntoohil parking lot, so the reeks are the backdrop to all the walks I do, both along the public roads and the occasional trot in rushes – and if I fancy some sea breeze, I’ll take a walk on Rossbeigh Beach, which is a 20-minute drive from my house. Biking is another exercise I do. ‘enjoy, and again I really don’t have to leave Beaufort as the roads are calm and the scenery spectacular. Every now and then I put on the backpack and pedal to the town of Killorglin for shopping for groceries, because it’s my way of reducing my carbon footprint and toning my thighs.

“My sister is a big wild swimmer and swims all year round in the sea. So after a pretty hot summer, with Covid travel restrictions and my sister’s encouragement, I swapped the Mediterranean for (swimming) Rossbeigh and Cromane this summer and even fall. Overall, I try to exercise two to three times a week and will alternate the exercises if time permits.

“I think it’s good to set minimum goals and move towards an end goal, but it’s also good not to have a goal – because while it’s good to have a challenge, the fun has to be. be the key. “


Seán Mac Gabhann is a lecturer in Sligo IT. He is originally from Dublin and is in the process of moving west with his partner, Niamh. Having enjoyed snorkelling and scuba diving for many years, he founded Snorkelling Ireland (a community site to help develop the sport) in 2020 and says the activity is a great way to get in shape. and to feel energized at the same time.

Diving with a mask and a snorkel.  Photography: iStock

Diving with a mask and a snorkel. Photography: iStock

“I started snorkeling a long time ago because I have never lived too far from the sea and I tried scuba diving a few years ago, but I did not take it to the serious until 2018, when I started diving with Triton diving, under the PADI system. Typically I would dive two to three times a week, including pool workouts at St Columba’s College and sea workouts on weekends, normally from Sandycove, Dún Laoghaire. I travel around the country a bit, mostly shore diving but there are some great dive centers to visit on the west coast of Ireland which I do whenever I can.

“There is only one word to describe how I feel and it is invigorated. I am one of those very strange people who never really feel cold, so in winter the cold water refreshes my mind and makes me feel alive.

“But there are two things that cause problems for divers and snorkelers in Ireland. First, unpredictable weather can cause unpredictable currents and second, poor visibility. For example, the east coast of Ireland is mostly silty, so if the wind picks up or a swell appears, the water can become very cloudy.

“Despite these issues, I encourage anyone who thinks about it to go snorkelling. Don’t think about it, just do it. This will open up another world which is right on your doorstep, and if you are unsure, contact your local dive school or snorkel club as they will help you get started.


About Shirley A. Tamayo

Check Also

Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder with an Exercise Routine

Contents As the days get shorter and darker, people may feel affected by Seasonal Affective …