By Yvonne Hignell, Care and Support Services Director
At the start of a new year many of us make a resolution to get fitter or lose weight, but this can fall by the wayside if your wallet is feeling the pinch. Don’t worry, though – there are plenty of ways to become more active without having to shell out for a gym membership.
Fitness for good
Goodgym is a community of runners who combine jogging with doing manual labour for community groups and supporting isolated older people. Alternatively, Green Gym gives you the chance to work on conservation projects such as planting trees or sowing wildlife meadows.
If you’d rather go to a formal exercise class and don’t mind taking your gym kit to the high street, some fitness stores run free sessions. Exercise clothing brand Sweaty Betty runs over 70 different classes per week, as well as online video workouts.
There are free sports initiatives happening all over the UK, and you don’t have to sign up to a group if you’d rather work under your own steam. Why not see if your local park has an outdoor gym that you can visit or a Park Run to take part in?
Alternatively, there are more social options. If you live in Bristol, Edinburgh or London you can take part in Project Awesome’s loud and proud morning fitness sessions. For a quieter workout, you can find a couple of friends and sign up to have a coach-led session and knockabout with Tennis for Free. Additionally, Park Lives runs sessions on a wide range of activities, including running, geocaching (an international treasure hunting game that uses GPS), football and dance.
If your new year’s resolution was to get back on your bike, then Sky Ride not only runs large-scale cycle rides, but also a range of route ideas and local cyclist community events.
Get active at home
If you don’t have the time to get out to any organised events, there are plenty of ways to fit exercise in from the comfort of your home.
The NHS website offers a range of downloadable exercise routines, including 10-minute workouts, on its website. They also have advice on how to get active if you have a disability or long-term health condition.
You can also find tonnes of fitness videos for every age and ability on the internet. Fitness Blender is a fantastic site that enables you to track your progress, create a daily fitness calendar and save your favourite workouts.
Additionally, there a number of free apps that can help you become more active. One of the most famous is the Couch to 5k programme (available on Apple and Android), which is designed for people who are new to running and just starting an exercise routine.
If running doesn’t interest you then Sworkit offers strength, cardio, yoga and stretching video workouts that you can put together to create your own personalised programme. Freeletics is a personal trainer app that creates a training plan made up of high-intensity workouts based on your bodyweight.
Make some small changes
Have a look at your lifestyle and see if there are any small changes you can make to help get more active. This could be as small as using stairs instead of lifts or ensuring you get up and stretch regularly if you work at a desk.
If you live close enough to work, then consider walking or cycling there a couple of days a week and slowly building up to every day.
You could also get into the habit of taking a walk around the block first thing in the morning or after you get in from work. Keep it short and you’re more likely to make it a lasting part of your routine.