Hiking in the great outdoors gives you the perfect opportunity to disconnect from daily life and reconnect with nature.
Outside of the immediate benefits of getting lots of fresh air, getting your boots on and going on a hike offers other benefits. It is weight-bearing, which helps maintain and build bone density. You get loads of natural Vitamin D which helps calcium absorption as well as combating low mood, stress and depression.
Hiking can also help improve overall sleep quality thanks to exposure to natural light and disconnection from blue light. The endorphins released while hiking trigger positive feelings which help improve our mood and boost happiness.
On top of all that, the social support of hiking with a group improves overall health and wellbeing.
You get all the benefits of being out in nature, climbing one of Ireland’s beautiful mountains, while challenging yourself to reach new heights.
The total immersion that mountain climbing demands helps you get into a state of flow, which is a great stress reducer and mood enhancer. You have to really focus when climbing trickier parts of the route and this is great for developing concentration and focus.
The sense of achievement from taking part and – if the day allows – reaching the summit is great for your self-confidence and sense of achievement.
The shared experience of taking on the challenge of climbing one of the country’s iconic mountains is great for developing trust, social skills and friendships.
In rock climbing, you climb up, down and across natural or artificial rock walls, aiming to get to the top or endpoint without falling. The sport has a reputation as being for thrill seekers only.
While it certainly is thrilling, it is an activity that most people can enjoy if they like a challenge. And the great plus is that it offers a huge range of mental and physical health benefits.
Rock climbing demands that your mind becomes calm and focused. It increases cardiorespiratory fitness as it involves lots of pulling, pushing and lifting. It helps build muscle strength and acts as a full-body exercise.
Because of the specific demands of rock climbing, where you are stretching, pushing and contorting, your flexibility, co-ordination and balance are improved. It helps enhance memory and problem solving while boosting the communication skills that are essential to your safety.
Like other forms of climbing, it helps build community, de-stress and combat low mood.
Although a comparatively new activity, coasteering is growing significantly in popularity. At its simplest, it is described as ‘Exploring and journeying through the impact zone (the point where sea hits land) between the levels of high and low water, often including total immersion in seawater.’ The point is to have as much fun as possible while doing this!
Wearing a wetsuit, helmet, gloves, old trainers and a buoyancy aid, you move in and out of the sea water onto the rocks and cliffs while walking, scrambling, crawling, climbing, jumping and swimming your way around the coastline. All this happens in the company and under the guidance of a trained instructor.
While you can go for the full thrill of jumping off high cliffs into the sea, this is optional and the real point of coasteering is the full experience of getting into the fun and challenge of scrambling over rocks, climbing up to high points, swimming through both narrow and open sea spaces and tidal movements. It’s all about feeling free in your body and getting to enjoy lots of movement in a fun-filled, thrilling environment.
The health benefits are a fantastic workout, being totally immersed in nature, a total adrenaline rush, lots of bonding and much laughter.
Gorge walking consists of scrambling, climbing, walking, jumping and sliding down watery slopes into plunge pools in a gorge and the river at the bottom of them. A gorge itself is the cleft between cliffs or the high sides that can be present at either side of some rivers.
The activity is full of adventure, challenge and great fun as you ascend or descend the gorge. Gorges are full of natural routes and rocky pathways that have been shaped and changes over thousands of years and it is a fantastic mental and physical workout to make your way through these in the company a trained instructor and group of people who are up for the challenge.
No special skills are need for gorge walking but it does require physical strength and some swimming skills. Once you are properly kitted out in the right gear, you will be ready to swim, slide, climb and scramble your way to the top or bottom of the gorge.
You can kayak in lakes, rivers, the ocean, in calm waters and not-so-calm waters. Kayaks themselves come in a number of different forms, all depending on their function. Even with hardly any kayaking skills, you can still participate and have a fantastic time in a kayak – in the company of a trained instructor, of course!
The most popular version of kayaks are wide and very stable boats that you propel using double-bladed oars which are light and easy to manoeuvre.
Kayaking is a low-impact activity which helps you maintain and improve your flexibility, strength and aerobic fitness. You get a great workout for your back, arm, shoulder and chest muscles from moving the paddle while also improving your cardiovascular fitness. Your legs and general torso area also get a good workout as these are used to help you power the kayak in the water.
A real joy of kayaking on calm waters is the blissed-out, meditative state it induces.
Oxygen Advantage® is a unique programme that teaches the science and tools of optimal breathing. Built on the two pillars of functional breathing and high-altitude simulation training, Oxygen Advantage® teaches people how to get fitter and stronger, how to enhance sports performance and improve physical and mental health.
We organise training days with a trained instructor for groups who will benefit from learning optimal breathing to help participants become fitter and stronger, to reduce breathlessness, to relieve the symptoms of many common illnesses, to improve energy levels, concentration and mental focus.
Sports groups benefit from learning how to breathe more effectively while running, how to delay the onset of fatigue and lactic acid, to improve repeat sprint ability, respiratory muscle strength, aerobic capacity, running time and swimming performance
Wim Hof Method Workshop
The practice, which combines breathing, cold therapy and commitment, has proven anti-inflammatory effects, reduction in altitude sickness, decrease in flu-like symptoms, increased levels of nervous system neurotransmitters, and improved oxygen delivery during exercise.At its most basic, it is a system of controlled hyperventilation involving three sets of thirty breaths. The breathing practice, along with cold exposure, can lead to an increase in energy, focus and immunity, as well as enabling better sleep, bringing about a reduction in stress, helping with anxiety, pain management and low mood. The breathing practice can be experienced on its own or in conjunction with the cold therapy, commonly experienced by sitting in an ice bath for a number of minutes.
Core strength, balance and mobility workshop
Our core muscles (abdominal, truck, back muscles as well as hip and pelvis) link our lower and upper body and are involved in almost every physical activity we undertake. These muscles need to be strong to give us the stability, balance and strength we need to function well physically and to protect our body from injury.
However, the sedentary lifestyle that makes up much of our days is leading to weak cores. This, in turn, is leading to bad posture, injury and pain, especially in our back, legs and arms. The good news is that we can get our core back working by practising specific exercises that target all the key muscles.
The benefits of a properly working core area are strong muscles that allow you engage easily in physical activity, increased fitness, toned abs, better posture and overall improved fitness levels.
Perhaps most importantly, a strong core helps less your susceptibility to injury by keeping your body aligned and minimising strain on muscles and joints. A properly aligned body will also make you less prone to back pain and help you develop better posture.
There has been sustained growth in the popularity of forest bathing in the past number of years, with scientific studies proving that spending time mindfully immersed in nature has many benefits for our emotional, mental, physical and social health.
The practice, which is led by a trained guide, involves connecting to the natural world through the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Forest bathing allows you to embrace the stress-reducing benefits of being in nature in a consciously meaningful way.
Research shows that this immersion, which allows you unplug from daily life and reconnect with nature, acts as a balm to everyday stresses and can help lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety, help you to de-stress mentally and emotionally, increase immunity and boost creativity.
The experience culminates with a magical tea ceremony enjoyed in the beauty of the forest
Qigong comprises a series of movements, massage and energetic practices that help balance your body’s life-force or vitality. Movements are simple, involving a repeated pattern or a stationary pose that is conducive to a meditative state. The practice is, in effect, a moving meditation.
Regular practice, with mindfulness and breath awareness, for people of all ages, helps stimulate the body’s own healing energy and unobstructed blood flow. Movement, mindfulness and conscious breath stimulate acupuncture points in the body.
Other benefits include a greater ability to relax, a calmer mind, increased physical and mental strength, increased ability to deal with illness and move towards recovery, greater balance in emotional and mental health.
The practice is a fantastic way to take control of our own whole-health and wellbeing in a manner that can easily be incorporated into daily life.
More and more people are becoming aware of the benefits of a regular meditation practice. There are many different forms of meditation, most of which don’t require that you be in a special space or have any equipment. Even five minutes of practice, twice daily, can have positive effects on your health and wellbeing.
While it is not possible to completely stop the busy mind, the practice of meditation allows your mind to quieten. You gain perspective on your life, cultivate focus and attention and emotion regulation as well as developing compassion.
Some of the proven health benefits of meditation include stress reduction, greater anxiety control and coping skills, increased concentration, better sleep patterns, improved psychological health, increased attention span, and greater control of pain. Some practices help you develop greater self-awareness and promote greater self-development. Meditation may reduce age-related memory loss and can decrease blood pressure.
There are a few different styles of meditation practice and you can try various approaches to see which suits you best.
Talks with experts on whole-health and wellbeing
We organise talks with experts, either in person or online, who share the most up-to-date, scientifically-proven information and learning on whole-health and wellbeing.
Topics covered include, but are not restricted to:
- The importance of natural movement and how to incorporate it into your daily life
- The benefits of good eating habits and how to develop sustainable habits
- The importance of creating a good sleep pattern and the ways to do that
- How to manage stress successfully
- The importance of positive social relationships and how to develop them
- Igniting your ‘why’: knowing and developing purpose in your life