Getting back to the gym after some time off can be almost as nerve-wracking as starting from scratch: the pressure of running as long as you used to, lifting as heavy as you did or generally being able to get back to routine. 

Being active has enormous benefits to our mental health, so finding ways to bring it into your life gently is especially important these days. That's why the new 20x20 campaign is just what we need.

With the motto "No proving, just moving" at its core, the campaign is about getting women of all ages and abilities to give themselves the gift of exercise to encourage physical and mental well-being.

"So much of exercise and women in sport can become about how one would look instead of how one would feel", says ambassador Aoibhín Garrihy. "And I think ultimately how we feel is the most important thing, whether that's our physical health or our mental health."

The goal is to give yourself 20 days to habit-form, bringing physical activity into your life in a big or small way. There's no weigh-ins, no gym check-ins: just getting fit in your own way.

"You're not looking for a quick fix, you're not looking for things to drastically change overnight. It's baby steps to begin with and it's really accessible no matter what level of fitness you're at."

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There are so many barriers to exercise these days, from juggling childcare to work to mental health struggles, or even just a feeling that you've lost your mojo, she adds. "For me, I've two babies under two so things are busy, but I know that when I feel like it least is when I probably need it most and it usually takes a little bit of encouragement! 

"When himself comes in and suggests I go for a walk or play a bit of tennis, usually the first response I give him is a laugh but really he's right because he knows the battery is empty and needs to be refilled. The only way to do that is to start putting your wellbeing, your self-care first." 

Encouraging women and girls to take up exercise is central to the campaign too, a cause that's very close to Garrihy as a mother of two young girls. 

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"I love the message, I love 'she can't see it, she can't be it". I have two small girls, the statistics show that no matter how athletic girls are, we tend to fall off the wagon when it comes to our physical fitness and keeping with sport. 

"That's my own story too, I loved all of my extracurricular sporting activities. Then, as soon as college hit, it stopped. Now I've been scrambling to get that back into my life and it was really only when I was facing into my 30s that I realised 'you need to start really prioritising your health'."

For Garrihy, though, it's not the treadmill or rowing machine that calls her but the great outdoors. "I'm not a gym bunny, I really struggle to keep that kind of regimental, pound the treadmill exercise, it's not me. I love time in the outdoors, I love my sea swimming, my hikes, treks, being out in nature. That for me is therapy."

But if you're not sure what kind of exercise is for you, the campaign is full of videos for beginners and guides to whet your appetite. Garrihy for one is most looking forward to the dancing, as a former Dancing With the Stars finalist.  

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After months of lockdown and pandemic stress, picking up a skipping rope or putting on the runners might be the last thing you'd want, but the benefits for your mental health are particularly important now. 

"Tread softly is what I would say to people, be kind and give yourself a break. This is good because it's not a quick fix, habit forming is the main objective. After 20 days of this you'd hope that that'll be the new normal." 

It has the same feeling of all-in-this-together that the VHI Women's Mini Marathon has, an even that Garrihy does each year with her mum and sisters and really missed this year. 

"There's nothing like the day itself. That many women, all there for a cause that means something to them. It's the sentimental aspect of the day itself when you see all of those t-shirts, it's women who've overcome their own personal struggles or know someone they love they're battling on for."

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And she's passing this down to her daughters too. Each Sunday she brings them to the sea with her while she goes sea swimming, letting them taste that camaraderie and joy of being outdoors. 

"There's nothing like getting out in the outdoors to pull you out of a rut."

'Lidl Moves for 20x20' is Lidl Ireland's new exercise programme and microsite which was launched as part of their support of the 20x20 campaign's, 'No Proving. Just Moving.' initiative. 'Lidl Moves for 20x20’ has been created to encourage and motivate women of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to give themselves the gift of exercise.

Participants are invited to start their journey by taking the physical activity questionnaire that will give an understanding of how they like to be active, with the aim of then providing women with a relevant starting point on the road to a new habit. You can visit the new microsite here.

For more information on the 20x20 campaign, click here