July 2024

The joy of exercise

A recent report suggests that one in five Irish people do not take sufficient exercise. The benefits of regular exercise are numerous – good for one’s physical health and, of huge significance, one’s mental health. In an age when mental illnesses are so prevalent, walking in woods, along beaches, up mountains, anywhere really that one can absorb the beauty of nature, can have a very positive effect on one’s mental well-being. Another enormous bonus of exercise is when it is used as a means of going places, be that school, college, work, activities. For example, many people live near schools, but load their children into vehicles for a short school-run, afraid of traffic on the roads. The more people who walk and cycle to school or work, the fewer cars that are used, therefore the safer it becomes. Wearing hi-vis jackets is vital, as it increases one’s visibility hugely. Schools can be requested to organise more “walk to school” days, so that they become the norm. Other benefits also accrue: reduced fuel bills (be that in a vehicle powered by electricity or fossil fuels); reduction in carbon emissions. This summer, why not leave the car at home and walk / cycle more – and encourage young children to walk, rather than pushing them in buggies. Everyone will feel so much better for it. And the environment will benefit too.