Want to lose weight or get fit? Millions of people have this as their main aim for the year.
Signing up to an expensive gym isn’t always the best way. Not only because of the cost but because you may simply not use it that much. Some new ways to exercise emerged during the pandemic. Many previous gym-regulars decided they weren’t going back when gyms re-opened!
One thing most people agree on – you need to find a way to exercise that will suit you and fit in with your life.
Walk your way to fitness
Walking can be the perfect way to start if you aren’t at all fit.
Look for ways to incorporate more walking into your daily and weekly routine:
- walk to the supermarket, don’t get the bus,
- meet a friend for a walk in the park rather than a coffee,
- listen to music, podcasts or audiobooks. Keeping things interesting is the best way to keep going. You may be able to borrow audiobooks for free or cheaply from your local library.
Counting your steps is an easy way to aim to do a bit more each day. You don’t need to buy a Fitbit, just use your phone:
- iOS phones have Apple’s Health app already installed;
- for Android, look at Google Fit – Fitness Tracking.
If you have time regularly and would love a dog, but can’t have one in your flat or can’t afford the commitment, look at whether you could volunteer for the Cinnamon Trust.
If you have never run before the Couch to 5k app will get you up to running five kilometres – that’s about three miles – in a nine-week programme:
Probably the biggest challenge a novice runner faces is not knowing how or where to start. Often when trying to get into exercise, we can overdo it, feel defeated and give up when we’re just getting started. Couch to 5K works because it starts with a mix of running and walking, to gradually build up your fitness and stamina.
The first week involves running for intervals of a minute with walking in between. This makes the challenge feel achievable right from the start. Your phone tells you what you need to do. It’s from the NHS, so you will be in safe hands.
Running won’t just get you fit, you will lose weight too.
Keep it up!
There are lots of free apps such Strava and Runkeeper that will encourage you to do a little bit better (longer or faster) than your previous best time on whatever route you choose. There is a comparison of the two apps here.
You could get hooked:
- Park Runs are free five kilometer events organised across the country on Saturday mornings;
- here is what happened when a blogger decided to do Couch to 5k
- my partner first used Runkeeper 10 years ago – for a 3k run. He ran a few times a month before using the app. Last year he ran just over 3,650k – an average of more than 10k a day. He uses the free version of Runkeeper.
Get chased by zombies
If gentle persuasion and tips sound dull, join the 1 million people using the Zombies, Run! app:
Only a few have survived the zombie epidemic. You are a Runner en-route to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts. They need your help to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend their home. And you have another mission — one they don’t know about…
You can walk, jog or run – or even use it on a stationary bike at home or in the gym. The first four missions, and then an extra mission each week, are free so you can find whether this works for you.
Options at home that don’t need special equipment
Youtube to lose weight, get fitter or stretch in private
Turn to Youtube and DVDs for a large range of ways to get fit:
- 2 mile walk;
- aerobics videos eg 40 minutes Aerobic Dance Exercises.
- Yoga videos: Gentle Hatha Yoga Full Class – 20 min Yoga for Beginners and Gentle Yoga Flow – 30-Minute All Levels Yoga Class.
Doing these at home means no-one is watching you – perfect for when you lack confidence and are starting out. You also save money on classes and don’t need special exercise clothes.
And they are perfect for when you are working from home but need something to get your energy up before you start in the morning. or as a complete break at lunch.
Improve your strength and flexibility
Strength and Flex is a series of podcasts from the NHS, with videos to show how the exercises should be done. These are a gentle introduction, with the final podcast being suitable for doing regularly when you have finished the program.
If you already know how to do exercises such as push-ups, have a go at the New York Times’ 7-Minute Workout. It’s a free app going through a seven-minute program of twelve exercises with short ten-second breaks between them. Do it at home, you just need a chair and a wall, no special gym equipment.
Losing that extra weight…
Weight loss clubs have their enthusiasts. But they are expensive and many people don’t get long term results from them:
It’s the perfect business model. People give the slimming clubs the credit when we lose weight, but when we gain it back, we blame ourselves.
This means many of us rejoin the programme so we drop the pounds – and the cash.
MyFitnessPal is a free app that makes it easier to record what you are eating and track the calories:
- it has a barcode scanner that can be useful;
- it remembers what you’ve eaten in the past, making it easy for you to add those foods again to your log;
- its active forums offer moral support, ideas and recipes along the way;
- @mybody_coaching on Instagram says 99% of people don’t need its paid-for features and recommends the tutorials.
Get the kids involved!
- All the “PE with Joe” videos are on his You Tube channel.
- Dance with your kids to these Disney Dance-alongs.
- Change 4 Life – fun ideas for kids. Another great site from the NHS – it also has a lot of recipes, all easy to make and using just a few common ingredients, including ones for fussy eaters and ideas for lunchboxes.
- Look for junior Parkrun if your 4-14s sound interested.