No time? No money? No staying power? Whatever your reason is for not getting fit, we’ve got the answer!
Being more active is one of the most popular New Year resolutions. And it’s a good one.
Officials from Public Health England warn that lack of exercise is not only as dangerous as smoking, but is directly linked to one in six deaths in Britain.
So now you have good reason to get fit, you just need some great tips to overcome the most common obstacles.
Your excuse… I can’t afford it
✤ Try power walking. It’s fun, free and fantastic for fitness. To get the most from your walk, find your optimum pace, says fitness expert Joanna Hall (joannahall.com).
‘Progressively increase your pace every 30 seconds (speeding up your arm swing really helps) until you’re about to break into a jog.
This is your break point. Ease back by 10% – that’s your personal optimum walking pace.
Walking at this speed means you’ll see results much faster.’ For variety and safety, join a walking or hiking clubs.
✤ Want to start jogging? Couch to 5K is a free running plan developed to help absolute beginners progress over nine weeks.
✤ Work up a sweat digging, planting, lopping and path-clearing at one of 95 free nationwide Green Gyms, run by the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTCV). Call 01302 388 883 or visit tcv.org.uk/greengym.
✤ Outdoor gyms are suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels. ‘Fitness stations in local parks incorporate chin-up bars, sit-up benches and dip bars,’ says fitness trainer Kristoph Thompson: ‘They’re just as good as the weights room in the gym and they’re free!’
✤ Take advantage of the free gym passes many chains offer. Simply Google ‘Free Fitness Classes – UK’ for details or ask about trial sessions at your local gym.
✤ Try YouTube for free exercise videos. Check out doyogawithme.com for an online yoga workout.
✤ Check out freecycle.org to find exercise equipment or weights that others no longer want.
Walk backwards up a hill, suggests Jon Stratford, from Ultimate Boot Camp. ‘It’s a terrific quadriceps (thigh muscles) workout and calorie burn.’
Your excuse… I haven’t got the time
Try these moves while you wait for…
✤ The train: Walk up and down the platform with your abs pulled in and do a bottom clench on every turn to help firm your thighs and bum.
✤ The kettle to boil: Stand three feet from the kitchen counter, place your hands shoulder-width apart on the edge and position your body in a straight line, with your tummy pulled in.
Now lower yourself towards the counter by bending at your elbows until they reach a right angle. Straighten arms and repeat to firm arms, shoulders and chest.
✤ The microwave to ping: Stand tall with feet 15cm apart, legs turned out at a 45 degree angle. Rise as high as you can on your toes (without leaning forward). Hold this position for a second, then lower slowly, and repeat to strengthen calves and improve balance.
✤ The ad break: March on the spot – raising your knees as high as you can. Or run up and down the stairs.
✤ The spin cycle to finish: Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart. Slowly slide down the wall into a squat position and hold for five seconds before sliding back up. Repeat five times and aim to build up to 10 seconds to work your quads and core.
✤ Buy a skipping rope and have it handy at home for when you havea spare 10 minutes. According to the British Rope Skipping Association, skipping for 10 minutes can have the same health benefits as a 45-minute run.
It improves coordination, lower-body muscle tone and fat loss. Skipping has also been found to help osteoporosis, while improving your heart rate, blood pressure and balance.
✤ Hula-hooping is all about rhythm, coordination and stability in your core. A standard children’s hoop will do, or for a tougher workout, try a weighted wave hoop (£29.99, from discount-supplements.co.uk).
Use the stairs in your house or your doorstep to step up and down to music.
Your excuse… I’m hopeless at committing
Sticking to an exercise regime can be tricky when life gets so busy, but there are devices and tricks you can employ to help keep you going when your interest wobbles.
✤ Exercise with friends: You’re more likely to continue to do it. Personal trainer Kim Ingleby (energisedperformance.com) says: ‘Choose someone with similar exercise goals for a bit of healthy competition and motivation. The time will pass more quickly and you’ll push yourself harder.’
And why not share the cost of a personal trainer with friends?
✤ Try a smartphone app: Some track your progress, others put you in touch with a personal trainer or nutritionist who’ll check in with you once a week. Try greatist.com/fitness/best-health-fitness-apps.
✤ Equipment that monitors your progress, such as heart-rate monitors and pedometers, can help. Research by the Walking The Way To Health Initiative found that people who wore pedometers over a 12-week period, walked an extra 1,000 steps daily.
✤ You don’t even have to leave the house: A 30-minute HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) session offers more benefits than a typical hour of exercise, says fitness expert, Janey Holliday.
‘HIIT combines short bursts of high intensity moves (like sprints and jumping jacks) with lower-level strength moves (like squats, press-ups and ab workouts).’
The aim is for your heart rate to go up and down, boosting fitness and burning calories. However, it’s not for the very unfit or those with health problems.
✤ Add resistance training to strengthen and tone. Try press-ups, squat jumps and tricep dips.
✤ Set a goal that slightly scares you and commit to it: Sign up for the Race for Life, a Zumbathon or Breast Cancer Bike Ride.
✤ Bounce yourself fit! Rebounding – jumping on a small trampoline – is more effective at boosting your cardiovascular fitness than running, and the ‘most efficient, effective exercise yet’, according to a scientific study by NASA to find the best way to tone up flabby astronauts.
Try Fitness-Mad Studio Pro Rebounder – 40in (£65.99, from Amazon).
Start every day with squats. ‘Aim for 15 to 20 slow, steady repetitions, two to four times a day to tone your butt and thighs,’ says personal trainer Chris Rogers.
‘Place your feet hip-width apart, send your hips backwards and bend your knees, push up through your heels, repeat.’