A GROUP of Ulster and Ireland rugby stars are using lockdown to tackle mental health head on.
Chris Henry, Paul Marshall, Tommy Bowe, Andrew Trimble and Neve Jones will be taking part in a live streamed workout session this Saturday to raise funds for mental health charity Aware NI.
It's expected that hundreds from across Ireland and further afield will take part in the 30-minute session led by Jonny Rowan, head coach of Purpose Training in Belfast.
"The benefits of exercise have long been linked to positive mental health and wellbeing, as well as good physical health and fitness," he said.
"This has been highlighted more clearly than ever before by leaders in every nation across the world throughout the Covid-19 crisis, when even the strictest of lockdown restrictions have allowed for daily exercise." Former Ulster and Ireland back row Henry said: "When you're playing rugby full-time you get to experience first-hand just how impactful exercise can be on your mental health and wellbeing.
"But we know that for thousands of people across Ireland each year exercise simply isn't enough and the challenges they face with their mental health require much more specialised care and support.
"Any one of us can be impacted by mental health issues at any time and that's really why we were so keen to get behind 'Sweat for Purpose'.
"As well as being a great excuse for a few of us to get together again and pound it out for 30 minutes, we hope it drives awareness of what is now such a prevalent issue and raises vital funds for what is a truly outstanding charity."
Lesley Wright, community and events fundraising officer with Aware, said: "We are delighted to be the nominated charity for Purpose Training's 'Sweat with Purpose' live workout.
"Exercise can have many benefits for your mental health; it can reduce stress and anxiety, whilst also improving your mood. It's great to see those from the world of rugby come together with Purpose Training to raise awareness of mental health in Northern Ireland.
"Funds raised for Aware will go to support those in Northern Ireland who are struggling with their mental health, particularly at this difficult time."
The event takes place at 10am this Saturday. To register visit www.eventbrite.co.uk and search 'Sweat for Purpose'.
Suitable for people of all ages and abilities, no equipment is required and participants are asked to make a minimum donation of £10.
Further information about the work of Aware NI is available at www.aware-ni.org.