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Five simple ways to shake off the cobwebs and discover a path to better, happier place

MOST of us at some stage of our lives can feel down or rejected, and life can throw many curve balls at us – from personal to financial to relationships. You may even wonder what next?

From my own personal point of view, finding out that I was adopted was certainly a surprise, while paralysis after surgery went wrong was another major curve ball for me. One thing that saw me through and gave me major strength was exercise and good friendships.

For years health practitioners have been saying that all forms of activity can blow away the cobwebs and make us feel alive again. Yes, I know it's difficult to get started or motivated but once you get going you'll feel the benefits.

I've set out five very small but helpful points which will help you move, literally, into a better space, and perhaps give you the push you need to help you on the road to improvement.

Exercise makes you happy

All exercise helps to release the happy hormones which are controlled by your pituitary gland, or in yoga, called the third eye. When you get active with any form of exercise, particularly with light weights, you will help activate your hormone levels. Serotonin is released and absorbed into the blood stream.

When serotonin levels get low it can lead to depression etc. Also, the B-vitamin pantothenic acid, or the happy vitamin as its called, is utilised more effectively and gives you a calming effect. Elevating your mood will make you feel 100pc better. It's been medically proven that vigorous exercise blows off the dust and clears the mind making you feel better, think clearer and medics are now realising the powerful effects of exercise. I've seen enormous results working with people of all ages to elevate anxiety and depression.

All it takes is 15 minutes a day

Give yourself a target of 15 minutes a day to get off the couch or bed and do any vigorous exercise. Digging the garden or walking your dog counts, too. Whatever it is that gets you moving, do it. Many new exercise programmes are 10-15 minutes of explosive movements. These can result in a huge rise in serotonin and hormone levels, giving a happy feeling of wellbeing.

Look good, feel good

When you exercise, you definitely feel better in your clothes. Your muscles start to become toned and firm, and your waist feels tighter. Your arms, chest, back and legs respond quickly even if you haven't trained before. When your body is tight your clothes fit better, you'll look sharper and your confidence improves. It's a win-win situation. Look better, feel better equals the new you.

It doesn't cost the earth

As a gym owner I know the expense puts people off joining gyms, but there is so much out there which is free. For example, some parks and forest trails have work-out stations, often with machines that are easy to use.

You can also look for obstacle courses in forests – rope climbing, step-ups, climbing frames – like the ones children use in the playground. Swimming in the ocean or at the 40 Foot, which I did with my son last week are also free as are hill walking, jogging, mountain biking (borrow a bike or buy one second-hand) and press-ups.

Get the whole family involved. Have a competition to see how many press-ups or chin-ups you can do in a minute. Outdoor training is fantastic and can leave you feel ing invigorated.

Meeting new people

When you set about trying any of these activities, you meet great people. Training brings out a great sense of camaraderie. Hill walkers often walk at weekends and in big groups. When I started training I was the original 7st weakling, too embarrassed to get involved. But when I did at 21, it opened a new life for me, I made great friends who are always there for me. So try and make the first move and get involved. The isolation and loneliness will go, and you'll feel part of the world again. So the first step is to decide to get involved. Switch off the TV and take a giant step into the unknown.

And finally, another great way of meeting people is your local community centre, where for a few euro a week you can learn to dance, swim, train, learn a craft, do yoga. There is so much out there so just join the world and step outside.


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