It is not always easy to find time for a fitness regimen, despite knowing the importance of taking regular exercise. Sometimes it can be difficult to find the motivation too. However, if you find an activity that you enjoy then you are much more likely to stick to it; instead of treating exercise like a chore, explore all the fitness options out there and choose one that feels like fun.
Jogging is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to activities like Parkrun which organize weekly 5-km runs in communities all around the world. Parkrun is free, and you even get your run timed so you can work on improving your personal best. These groups have made what was previously a very solo sport a much more enjoyable and social experience. There are still lots of people who like to pound the pavements alone, or with music for company. The advantages of jogging over other sports or gym-based activities are that you only need a good set of running shoes to be able to take part. You can go running anytime you like, even outside normal gym opening hours, and you are in control of how far and fast you run.
Swimming is ideal for those who are recovering from injury, or who are perhaps getting back into an exercise regimen after a long time away. The water helps to support your body which reduces the risk of injury. As with jogging, swimming is quite a solo activity which will appeal more to some than others. Again, you can push yourself as much as you want — choose an easy stroke-like breaststroke if you’re a beginner and work up to faster strokes like front crawl or butterfly to really get the heart pumping!
If you are trying to get fit or lose weight, cardio-based activities in or out of the gym are a great way to start. You can improve your fitness by using cardio machines in the gym — exercise bikes, treadmills — or get out and try the real thing by cycling around where you live. Make sure you take safety precautions on a bicycle, especially if it’s been a few years since you rode one. Most gyms offer cardio classes too. If you like music, try some of the dance-based classes like Zumba or Bokwa. You may find that you have such a good time dancing to the music that you forget you’re exercising at all! Even if you are older than you used to be, there’s no excuse. Programs like old school new body offer plenty of options for any age group!
The other option at the gym is to use weight machines or free weights to help tone your body, and also to help lose weight. A combination of cardio and weights is the best way to improve fitness if you’re starting from scratch. However, it is important to use the right technique to avoid injury. Speak to staff at your local gym to find out how to safely use the weight machines or free weights before you start lifting.
If you’re competitive, you might prefer to try a team sport to help with your fitness. There are lots of local clubs playing team sports like soccer, football, tennis, and hockey, and most will be very happy to see beginners coming along to boost their numbers. Playing sports is a much more social way to get fit — although be careful that the socializing doesn’t undo all your hard work on the field! Playing sports can be expensive, as there is often a lot of equipment to buy; you can usually find places that will rent equipment if you are not sure whether a certain sport is for you and want to give it a try.
Yoga is a great way to improve your flexibility, tone your body and to help yourself relax — all at the same time! It can be hard work at first to get the hang of some of the positions, but there are usually easier options for beginners and older people — don’t feel like you have to match the instructor’s pose completely. Most gyms offer yoga classes that are more fitness-based, or there are yoga studios which focus more on the holistic benefits of the positions and often include a meditation session to help work on your mind as well as your body.