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Commuters are being encouraged to add walking to their daily commute.

The National Transport Authority and Healthy Ireland are launching a new pilot campaign today to help commuters achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The campaign is a first step in taking a more joined-up approach across Health and Transport, linking health and sustainable travel policy together for the benefit of the commuters. The pilot will be assessing what it is that will motivate commuters to introduce more physical activity into their daily routines.

By getting off a stop early or walking to a further stop while taking the bus, Luas, or train, commuters can add a ten-minute walk to their morning or evening routes. The short-term benefits are potentially reduced stress levels, a boost in energy, and improved concentration and mood.

Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said: “I’m delighted to support this initiative. Small changes can make a big difference and making a small change in our daily commute can help us all to achieve a healthier lifestyle.”

Minister Simon Harris TD, added “The health benefits of walking are well-known and weaving a walk into your daily commute is the best way to make a habit of it and to make sure you’re fitting in your daily 30 minute recommendation. I encourage everyone to try to get on or off one stop earlier.

“I would like to acknowledge former Irish Heart Foundation CEO, Paddy Murphy and to thank him for initially bringing this idea to my attention. Paddy has long been an advocate for promoting healthier lives and initiated the well-known Sli na Slainte walks and we look forward to assessing the progression of this concept.”

Increasing physical activity can seem like a daunting task, especially in the colder months, but when you’re already out and on the way to work or college, it’s easier than you think to make small changes to established routines.

The pilot campaign will be found on transport advertising carried on bus, train and Luas routes throughout the greater Dublin area from November 3 to 16. The feedback from the pilot will inform further campaign activity.

More information can be found on Transport for Ireland’s website here.

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Tonight, Operation Transformation will launch their new initiative in association with the GAA. 

In  bid to get Irish people off the couch and out walking, GAA clubs around the country have pledged to 'light up' tonight. 

Ireland Lights Up will see clubs turn on the floodlights and lighting systems at their pitches to create a safe space for communities to come together for a stroll. 

'The GAA are delighted to be partnering up with RTÉ's Operation Transformation and Get Ireland Walking to bring together communities across the 32 counties to enjoy healthy walks in the safe, bright, environs of their GAA Clubs,' said Aogán Ó Fearghail, GAA President.

'This reinforces the work of our Healthy Club project and helps our clubs to become hubs for health in their communities.'

'I'm looking forward to getting out with my own club in the coming weeks, who have already sign up to this great initiative.'

'I am thrilled that Operation Transformation and the GAA are teaming up with Get Ireland Walking and GAA clubs across the country to help people get out and about in a bright and safe environment,' said Kathryn Thomas.

'Get Ireland Walking is another great initiative helping people take charge of their own health and fitness and we are delighted to give it our full support.'    

To get your club registered, find out more here

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There are those of us who can think if nothing better to do than don a tiny pair of running shorts and hit the spinning class the second their work day ends. Then there are also those of us who see the shorter evenings as an excuse to catch up on our TV shows and enjoy warm snacks.

If you are one of those people who doesn’t particularly love the thought of the gym after a long day (or before one, early morning gym people can be the worst), then we have good news.

You can still get fit and healthy, and you don’t need a gym membership.

Go for a bike ride:

It doesn’t have to be incredibly strenuous, Also, you’re probably less inclined to notice you’re doing so much physical activity when if you pick a scenic route.

Take the stairs:

If you’re at work or just out and about, make the effort to take the stairs and not an elevator. You’ll burn more calories, and possibly save some time if you work in a busy office building.

Park further away:

It seem like a nuisance, but if you’re going to be desk-bound all day there’s no harm in spending an extra minute or two walking from the car park.

Laugh more:

This is probably our favourite study that we’ve come across yet. While research maintains that you can’t eat fast-food every day and expect to have rock hard abs after a few giggles, they do say "every calorie counts". Laughing raises your energy expenditure and increases your heart rate from 10 to 20 per cent.

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Some people just don't like coffee, simple as that. But when the rest of the world resort to it for an energy boost, it can be difficult to find another solution to kickstart your body into action. 

And even if you do like coffee, chugging too much of it can sometimes worsen fatigue. So, before you pop the kettle back on (again), try these natural energy boosters to get that buzz back into your system:

1. Hydrate

If you're feeling a bit sluggish, it's probably down to dehydration. Instead of reaching for coffee or a sugary snack, chug down some H2O. 

It'll perk you up without all that nasty sugar. But make sure to keep hydrating until bed time, then you'll really notice the difference. 

 

2. Move around

You knew this was coming! But it's true that a little physical activity really gives your mind a jolt.

Moving requires you to be a lot more alert than when you're sitting, so even just walking around your office for five minutes will do the job. 

 

3. Peppermint essential oil

This is an easy way to stimulate your mind and increase your focus. Have a little bottle at your desk and smell it whenever you need a kick.

Dabbing some on your wrist also works wonders for when you're lagging in energy.

 

4. Citrus fruits

A great way to put your mind and body into action is to chomp down on some citrus fruits in the morning. 

Another alternative is to squeeze some lemon or lime juice into your water when you first wake up – it might be even better than coffee!

 

5. High-energy snacks

Oatmeal, celery and dark chocolate (yes!) are great snacks to get your body moving. And just a couple of bites of chocolate increases blood flow to the brain. 

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Exercising can get boring, especially if you are running, walking or cycling the same route. Here are some great tips to spice it up a bit:

Make the most of steps
When you are walking or running outside make the most of any steps that you come across. Instead of running or walking for 5 kilometres do 4k and run or walk up and down the steps a few times.

Go up hill
Going up-hill is tough so make sure you add it into your route. It will require you to push yourself that bit harder and and you will have to use different muscles in your body.

Go off road
For a really exhilarating experience go off-road. Ditch the pavement and spice up your regime with a trip up the mountains, across the beach or through a forest. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Grab a friend or two
If you normally go exercising on your own grab a friend once or twice a week to really spice things up. If your friends aren’t into it, join a group or club.

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Walking is one of the most enjoyable and easiest forms of exercise you can do.

You don’t need any fancy equipment and it will get you out in the lovely fresh air.

Here are some tips to make walking even more beneficial for toning.

1. Tone your tummy when walking by contracting the muscles in your core area.

2. Choose uphill routes to work your thigh muscles.

3. Correct your posture and stand tall.

4. Carry some weights or put some in a backpack.

5. Invest in a heart rate monitor so you can calculate calories burned and motivate yourself.

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We all walk every day, whether it’s to the car or to the bus at last some part of your daily activity involves walking. However, you might be doing it wrong without even noticing.

Here is how you should be walking:

Take shorter steps
When walking you should be taking short steps rather than long strides as they can lead to hyperextension of the knees which is when the knee joint is taken further than its normal range of motion. If you push your stride too far you risk your calf muscle having to push backward in order to push the body forward, which is not good.

Lean forwards
Most people think they walk with a slight hunch when in actual fact people tend to lean slightly backwards. We should be taking full advantage of gravity and engage core walking muscles.

Alternate your arms and legs
With each step you take your arms and legs should be working in opposition with your left arm moving just as far as your right leg.

It’s not hard to change the way you walk – it will eventually become natural.

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The best accompaniment to an exercise regime is music. A great song will help you keep the beat, keep you motivated and will help you when you hit a wall – not literally.

Whether it’s running, walking or hitting the gym, these songs are bound to get you moving:

Top five running songs to get your feet pounding

Ellie Goulding – Burn

P!nk – Run

Outkast – Hey Ya!

Eminem – Lose Yourself

Florence and the Machine – Dog Days are Over

Top five songs to get you pumped in the gym  

Black Eyed Peas – Pump It

Daft Punk – Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

Kanye West – Stronger

Fatboy Slim – Right Here, Right Now

Limp Bizkit – Rollin’

Swing your hips with these top five walking songs

Taylor Swift – You Belong With Me

Journey – Don’t Stop Believing

The Killers – Mr. Brightside

The Coronas – San Diego Song

Foo Fighters – My Hero

Now get those runners on and get moving..

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