Seven ways for men - who don't run, cycle or go to the gym - to exercise
Not everyone is into cycling or running - but that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of other ways of getting your daily dose of activity. Joe O'Shea takes a closer look
Do you run, cycle or go to the gym? For men looking to exercise, it seems the options (and challenges) are pretty limited.
In the most recent national Healthy Ireland Survey, 63pc of Irish men said they realised they needed more physical activity in their week. But 43pc said they simply didn't have the time for regular exercise. The survey found that the perception amongst many men was that they had limited options - bike, run or gym - and all three would necessitate putting aside hours of their week to make working-out a specific task.
It seems many Irish men are put off by what they believe is the need to invest in expensive kit - such as hi-tech bikes - or by excessive demands on their time.
But there are alternatives to the Holy Trinity of Bike, Gym, Run. Many have a social element that you just won't get down at the gym. You can get a workout, make friends, learn new skills and even give something back to the community.
Some of your best Fitness-Outside-The-Box options include;
Don't be put off by images of Olympic athletes in sleek machines. There are as many types of rowing as there are ball games and it's become an increasingly popular (and social) way for Irish men to exercise in recent years. It's a non-contact, high-intensity sport that you can do anywhere there is water.
A great place to start is Rowing Ireland (rowingireland.ie), which has lots of info on the many different types of rowing, how to contact local clubs, getting started and the kind of kit you will need (not much to get going). Many clubs offer free taster lessons or sessions. Just contact your nearest one (there's a full list on the Rowing Ireland website).
White Collar Boxing
Why not volunteer with your local club? It's a popular way to raise money for charity and get seriously fit - but also to challenge yourself in a way few other sports can do. There are organisations like White Collar Boxing Ireland (whitecollarboxing.ie) who can help organise events. But the IABA - the sport's governing body in Ireland - also runs regular courses for volunteers who want to get involved with their local clubs (try iaba.ie) and local clubs are always looking out for people to help out with their youth training.
For something low-impact but social and very rewarding - organisations like the RHSI Ireland (rhsi.ie) and Irish Heritage Trust (irishheritagetrust.ie) are actively looking for volunteers for a wide range of outdoor work, often in some of the most beautiful settings and gardens on this island. You can pick up new skills, meet new people and get a serious workout (try shifting a trailer-load of manure with a shovel) while doing your bit for two great organisations.
Studies have shown the fitness levels of professional dancers to be up there with boxers or pro-cyclists. It's challenging, fun, social and you don't need much kit beyond a good pair of shoes. Start off with Dance Ireland (danceireland.ie) for a list of accredited classes available nationwide or just look into what's available locally.
Volunteer Dog Walking
If you don't (or can't) have a pooch of your own - there are many organisations nationwide who will welcome volunteer dog carers, including Irish Guide Dogs For The Blind and the ISPCA (ispca.ie). This could range from a few hours a week to fostering future guide dogs (and they take a LOT of exercising).
If you can spare an hour a day, or more, you can find an event or activity to suit your skills. Your contribution will make a lifelong change to a person with vision impairment or a family of a child with autism if you volunteer.
It may be years since you kicked a ball in anger. But it's easy to overlook the GAA as an option for those who want to get fit. It's a nationwide organisation that is rooted deep in the community and dedicated to making everybody fitter and happier. You don't have to have a family connection or a background in the sports - your local GAA club will welcome people of all ages, shapes and sizes. There are veteran teams, handball leagues and plenty of scope for volunteering, a great way to keep fit and put something back into the community. The GAA has a special section on its website under volunteer recruitment (gaa.ie/my-gaa/administrators/volunteer-recruitment), or just contact your local club. They will be delighted to welcome you and get you out on a pitch, playing or helping guide the players of tomorrow.
Yoga - yes, it's a man thing
Not so exotic as it once was - but many Irish men may still feel a little dubious about performing downward-facing dog in a room full of sweaty strangers. However, yoga is proven to be highly beneficial for the body and mind - a non-contact, high-intensity exercise that increases flexibility, builds lean muscle and has a wide range of benefits for the heart.
It's easy to find classes nearby in most parts of the country. And if you want to go the macho route, there's always Bikram Yoga, performed in super-heated rooms (imagine doing a one-hour dance routine in a sauna). A good place to start looking for info and classes is on the Irish Yoga Association website - iya.ie.
Health & Living