Exercising is one of those things that can feel like a massive chore. Some people love it, but personally I much prefer going home to my bed and sticking on the Netflix. I have to go out of my way to make exercise really enjoyable and convenient, otherwise I’ll find a reason not to do it.
Now the winter is finally retreating it’s becoming easier to find exercise that I enjoy. The key is making sure it’s something you find fun, and that you get more out of it than just “fitness”. A really good incentive is the act of just getting out of the house and into nature. When the sun is shining and the air is warm, even my lazy bum wants to be outside.
These activities are mostly free, too. The only cost is buying equipment or suitable clothes if you don’t already have them. And if you do, then you’ve got yourself a nice free fitness activity which you might just have fun doing. No more worrying about gym memberships, the outdoors will do just fine!
A stroll in the park
It’s easy to underestimate the power of walking as exercise, but a good stroll really can make all the difference. There are so many benefits of walking. The average person will burn 120-140 calories per hour just from walking. It also gets your heart pumping your body moving, which are always good things.
Aside from the physical benefits, a nice walk in the park can also have positive mental benefits. Sometimes it feels like an achievement in itself just to leave the house, and feeling like you’ve actually done something with your day, even if it was just an hour round the park, is really good for general wellbeing. And you get to spend time with friends or family, or have some much needed me-time out in the open.
If you’re feeling adventurous you could go further afield and venture to a forest or country park. This time of year is good for the wellies – there’s still a lot of mud around from the winter snows and rains. I love a good bit of mud stomping. If you’re not so keen, then stick to concrete paths and you should be alright. You could even take a picnic with you and make a day of it!
Yoga is awesome. It’s so much more of a workout than you think, and you can adapt it to suit your level of fitness.
All you need to get started is a yoga mat, some comfy clothes, and some guidance. There’s loads of yoga flows on YouTube, but I personally recommend Yoga with Adriene as a really good starting point. She does routines for pretty much everything you could want – different intensities, relaxation, and weight loss. For more of a commitment you could try one of her 30 day challenges, though in the UK I very much doubt you could do every day outside without getting rained on!
Doing yoga outside is a completely different experience to doing it in your living room. I’m only slightly spiritual, but somehow I feel a real connection to the Earth and nature when I do yoga in the garden. The sounds are completely different – you get birds chirping and leaves rustling instead of the whirr of household appliances. Sometimes you also get traffic, depending on where you are.
The outside environment is so much better for reflection and peace. You’re away from the distractions of everyday life, and taking the time to go outside makes the whole practise seem more purposeful.
Go for a jog
Okay, so jogging isn’t for everyone. I used to think it wasn’t for me, but once I found my stride I started actually enjoying it a bit. Couch to 5k was my running saviour. I used to have the NHS Choices app, but they updated it and made it crap, so now I just time myself with the alarm on my phone when I go out running. I totally recommend getting some kind of couch to 5k app though, it really is great. You end up running way far much sooner than you ever thought you could.
Going out for a jog has similar benefits to going for a walk – it gets you outside, you get fresh air, you can have some alone time, and you get a great sense of achievement. It’s just the intensity that’s raised. And you don’t have to jog all the time, you can do intervals of running and walking. That’s what I usually do, and I find that each time I go out for a run I can go a bit further before needing to walk for a bit.
If you’re a beginner all you need to get started is a pair of trainers, some comfy leggings, top and a sports bra, and probably some kind of music player. I get very bored without music. Definitely get a couch t0 5k app as well. The main mistake I made years ago was lacking guidance. Having someone in your ear telling you how long to run for and when to stop and walk is super helpful and will keep you on track.
Just get out there and do it, keep it up, and you’ll be a runner before you know it!
Grab the old skipping rope
Back in the day I remember spending many a lunch break with my skipping rope, trying to pull of fancy tricks and different ways of jumping over the rope. My granddad once bought me a long rope from somewhere, which made me really popular at lunch times for a while as we all skipped together.
For some reason it’s just not something we do as adults, despite being a really good way to get fit. I’m not sure how good at it I’ll be when I do pick up that skipping rope again, but with a bit of practice I know I’ll do enough to work up a sweat.
Have a bit of fun with hula hooping
Hula hooping is awesome! It’s evolved a lot since the days in of plastic hoops in the playground, being made into cool dance routines and fancy tricks. For most people starting out again just being able to keep it at your waist is an achievement. But once you’ve got the hang of that you can hoop it round your arms, legs, neck – any part of your body really!
You can also incorporate throws or even add an extra hoop to make a really fun and impressive routine. Best part is, while you’re having all that fun you’re also doing quite an intense workout. I recommend getting a weighted hoop; it’s super difficult with the flimsy plastic ones form school, although they are better for throwing about or spinning on your arms.
If you’re not sure where to start there are hula hooping classes in most cities now, but I say just pick up a hoop give it a go. Check out the YouTube if you get stuck, and move on to groups if you want a more social experience. Many people take hoops to festivals now too – who knows, if you get really good you could become the entertainment!
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