It’s not too late to get fit for summer and you don’t even have to go to a gym to become fitter, healthier and happier. There are many benefits to exercising no matter what your age or ability, so the secret is to get moving a little bit more and find something that you really enjoy doing. Physical activity can also boost your self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy.
If you are new to exercise it is a good idea to start cautiously and progress slowly. Build activity into your daily routine; take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to work or get off the bus a few stops earlier than usual. You could even watch your favourite evening television programme while on a cardio machine at home.
Starting slow can also help you to create healthy habits that you continue with for a lifetime, but remember to listen to your body and be sure to take a break if you feel like you’ve pushed yourself too hard.
Adults should aim to do some form of physical activity every day and reduce the amount of time they’re sitting still or not moving for long periods of time. Your plan should include 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity activity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity. Creating and writing down a varied plan can also help you keep on track to achieving your goals.
Brisk walking (take the dog along for the ride too), dancing, a bike ride, water aerobics, tennis and hikes all count towards the 150 minutes. If you want to opt for vigorous activity, try running and jogging, swimming, team sports like football or netball and martial arts.
It’s also advised to include short sessions of muscle strengthening exercises like Pilates, yoga, lifting weights and bodyweight exercises like push ups. Digging in the garden and carrying heavy shopping bags also count!
Exercise doesn’t always have to be done inside a gym, there are plenty of other fun activities you can try. Running along the beach engages more muscles than just pounding on solid ground – as the grains of sand shift, you engage extra muscles in the hips, legs and core to compensate.
Wet and tightly packed sand is the best to run on as you’ll sink less and therefore be less likely to overuse your muscles while trying to stabilise. It’s quite hard work, so start with around 20 to 30 minutes to make sure you don’t overdo it.
Swimming in the sea is one of the most effective forms of full-body exercise. It builds endurance, cardio fitness and strength, and it’s one of the most effective calorie-burning workouts because swimming through waves is much harder than in a pool, requiring your muscles to work more. It’s also a type of beach workout that’s completely non-load-bearing, taking all the stress out of your joints, and the perfect way to cool off after your run!
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