Get fit for FREE this year!

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In 2014, the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) is encouraging you to get fit for free by using the outdoors as your own personal exercise space and rediscovering your local surroundings.

Enjoy a new way to improve your health and fitness this year with everything from outdoor gyms to adrenaline-filled mountain bike trails and organised park runs on offer.

NITB’s Destination PR Officer, Pauline Gormley is hoping to inspire those who want to enjoy a healthier lifestyle to make good use of what Northern Ireland has to offer.

“Getting healthier this year doesn’t have to break the bank as there are plenty of options to get fit for free outdoors,” said Pauline.

“You can take a brisk walk in a local beauty spot, use the free outdoor gyms in some parks or take a cycle along one of Northern Ireland’s many cycle routes. With so many options available all you need do is add a little will-power to succeed,” she added.

To help kick-start your fitness regime, NITB has highlighted a number of ways to get fit in Northern Ireland;

THE GREAT OUTDOORS

Outdoor gyms have been growing in popularity each year with many popping up across Northern Ireland. These fitness spaces are a great way to combine fresh air and beautiful views with some cardio exercise and they include much of the same equipment found in an indoor gym including chest presses, air-walkers and cross skiers. The gyms are suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels and best of all they are free. Get started today with a visit to one of the many outdoor gyms in Northern Ireland including Musgrave Park in Belfast, Wallace Park in Lisburn, Lurganboy Park in Newtownbutler, Six Mile Water Outdoor Gym between the Antrim Forum and Lough Shore Park, Carnfunnock Country Park in Larne and Delamont Country Park in Downpatrick.

PEDAL POWER

This year over 200 of the world’s best cyclists will be pedalling their way into Northern Ireland for the opening stages of one of the world’s most prestigious cycling races, the Giro d’Italia. Ahead of the big race why not saddle up, get fit and explore some of the most picturesque areas of Northern Ireland with cycling routes and trails for everyone.

Castle Archdale Family Cycling Trail, Irvinestown, Co. Fermanagh

Situated 15km north-west of Enniskillen, this six mile cycle route weaves its way through 230 acres of mature forest situated on the shores of Lower Lough Erne, enabling the cyclist to explore over 1,000 years of history.

Gosford Forest Park, Markethill, Co. Armagh

This location is not only a fantastic cycle trail but a wonderful forest filled with incredible flora and fauna perfect for hikers. The trail combines forest roads with two short sections of single track and is suitable for cyclists with basic off-road cycling skills. It should take around one hour to complete.

Knockchree Cycle Route, Kilkeel, Co. Down

A beautiful circular cycle route between Kilkeel and Attical, this route passes through some lovely countryside with dramatic views of the Mourne Mountains. Points of interest include Cranfield Beach, Greencastle Castle, Mill Bay, Carlingford Lough, Tamlaght Graveyard, Hanna’s Close and Church of the Narrow Place.

Bann Valley Cycle Route, Garvagh/Kilrea, Co. Londonderry

Enjoy the quiet country roads traversing the fertile landscape of the Bann Valley, with views towards the Bann corridor and beyond towards the Antrim Hills. The busy rural market towns of Garvagh and Kilrea offer opportunities to explore local heritage and culture and enjoy traditional hospitality.

Cycling routes in the Sperrins, Co. Tyrone

The Sperrins offer excellent options of 12 circular waymarked routes where you can discover a unique landscape, rich in natural and archaeological heritage and folklore. The routes vary in distance from 11 miles to 41 miles and are suitable for the average cyclist. All the Sperrins Cycle Routes are clearly waymarked with brown and white route markers which indicate the route number and provide directional markings.

MOUNTAINS OF FUN

Northern Ireland is perfect for those who want to try their hand at mountain biking with four purpose-built trails;
Davagh Forest, near Cookstown, Co. Tyrone

31km of exciting cross-country mountain bike trails designed by Phil Saxena of Architrail, who designed the Olympic Mountain Bike course in Beijing 2008. Suitable for a wide range of levels including families, beginners, intermediate and advanced.

Rostrevor, Co. Down

21km of cross country trails which includes two downhill trails – the only purpose-built downhill trails in Ireland. Suitable for intermediate to advanced riders.

Castlewellan, Co. Down
25km of purpose-built cross-country mountain bike trails which are suitable for a wide range of levels –including families, beginners, intermediate and advanced.

Barnett Demesne / Mary Peter’s, Belfast

12km of purpose built mountain bike trails just 10-15 minutes drive from Belfast city centre which is suitable for beginners and intermediate mountain bikes. There is also a purpose-built jumps park for advanced mountain bikers.

PARK LIFE

Parkrun is a timed 5km running event that takes place each week in several parks across Northern Ireland including Palace Demesne Park in Armagh, Citypark in Craigavon, Ormeau, Victoria and Falls Parks in Belfast, East Strand Beach in Portrush and the Fermanagh Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen. The events are free to take part in and only require runners to register online in advance for a unique athlete number. Open to all ages and abilities the events take place in pleasant parkland surroundings and your time and result is emailed and posted online the very same day.

For more information on how to get fit outdoors this year click on www.discovernorthernireland.com, visit your local tourist information centre or log onto www.facebook.com/discovernorthernireland

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Post Author: Belfast Times

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