Siobhan Byrne: Let exercise take away the strain

Why working out can do so much more than get you in great shape, says our fitness expert

Siobhan Byrne: setting goals and achieving them will help us stay motivated

Hindu squat 1

Hindu squat 2

Crunch reach 1

Crunch reach 2

Side dip 1

Side dip 2

Split squat 1

Split squat 2

Split squat 3

thumbnail: Siobhan Byrne: setting goals and achieving them will help us stay motivated
thumbnail: Hindu squat 1
thumbnail: Hindu squat 2
thumbnail: Crunch reach 1
thumbnail: Crunch reach 2
thumbnail: Side dip 1
thumbnail: Side dip 2
thumbnail: Split squat 1
thumbnail: Split squat 2
thumbnail: Split squat 3
Siobhan Byrne

We have all heard the saying, 'your health is your wealth', but working out and boosting fitness can do so much more than helping us to stay in tip-top physical condition as we go through life. It can aid our emotional and mental well-being too.

Our lives these days are more fast-paced than ever. Working longer hours, trying to juggle more on a daily basis and constantly rushing puts pressure on us and can cause stress.

We have to stop and wonder how this stress affects our health in the short and long-term.

Stress can be one of the leading contributing factors to ill health. It can put strain on the strength of our immune system, leaving us open to illness.

It is vital, therefore, that we reduce stress, where possible, and find time for the body to relax and unwind after a busy day. Exercise can be one of the best ways to do this. As you may know by now, I am an avid strength training advocate for many reasons. Not only is it great for helping shape the body, shed body fat and boost our cardiovascular strength, but it will also help reduce our stress and anxiety levels.

There are, however, many other great forms of training that will also help to keep those stress levels under control, and the key is to find something that we enjoy.

First and foremost, actually liking and enjoying the exercise we take part in will make it easier to maintain, rather than feeling like it is a chore.

It is also important that it does not overtake our lives - if it does, it can actually feel like an added pressure on us, and we are less likely to stick to it in the long-term.

Finally, just because we want to ease the stress, it doesn't mean we should shy away from setting ourselves a fitness challenge - setting goals and achieving them will help us stay motivated.

Focus on good health

Hindu squats

1/ Start by standing upright with your arms straight out in front, at shoulder height.

2/ Then lower your body towards the ground, keeping your back straight but coming on to your toes and lowering your hands down to the sides of the feet. Return to start position, then repeat. Remember to push your hips back and down and not allow your back to lean forward.

Crunch reach

1/ Start by lying on your back with your knees bent, feet flat and your hands on your thighs.

2/ Then lift your head and shoulders off the floor and slide your hands up to your knees. Keep your feet flat throughout. Then lower your head, shoulders and hands, and repeat this movement.

Side dip

1/ Start by leaning on your side, supporting yourself on your elbow and on the side of your foot, with the opposite foot sitting on top. Keep your body straight and hold the position.

2/ Then dip your hip down towards the floor, and return to start position.

Split Squats

1/ Stand upright with your feet split from back to front.

2/ Lower your body down towards the ground, in a lunge- like position.

3/ Push off the front foot and jump into the air, landing with the opposite foot forward. Repeat. Advance this exercise further by using a weighted ball or dumbbell holding at chest level.