Finding The Right Exercise For You

Whatever your reason for exercising - general health benefits, to increase your physical fitness or to help maintain or lose weight - it is important to find an exercise type that you can continue to enjoy week-in and week-out. You may prefer to exercise with friends or in a club, or by yourself. It doesn’t matter – keeping active is the main thing – so here are some of the easiest and most popular ways to start getting fit.

Walking

Walking is the simplest and cheapest of all exercises, and improves the condition of your heart and lungs (cardiovascular fitness) as well as working the muscles of the lower body and improving core strength. It is a weight-bearing activity, which helps improve bone strength, but is also low impact and so causes less stress on the joints than some other forms of exercise. You can walk anywhere and at your own pace but walking uphill uses more energy. If you don’t normally do any activity but would like to start walking more, walk rather than drive to your local shop or get off the bus or train a stop or two early. Take a walk during your lunch hour, and take a longer walk every week along a new route to keep it interesting.

Running

Running is an excellent way of getting fitter and there's really no difference between running and jogging, although jogging is often used to describe running at a slow pace. All you need is some comfortable running clothing, a good pair of running shoes and some enthusiasm , Check with your doctor first if you have a history of diabetes, chest pain, angina, asthma, epilepsy, high blood pressure, have had recent surgery or are pregnant – but,  as long as you're healthy and take it easy to start with, anyone can run. Always warm up first and aim to run at a pace where you can still hold a conversation, but that makes you slightly short of breath. If you're getting too breathless to talk, slow down or walk for a while until you're breathing more easily. Start by running/walking in this way for ten minutes in total and do this every two or three days until you can run for the full ten minutes. Aim to increase the duration of your run gradually until you can manage 30 minutes three times a week. To prevent boredom, add variety to your running by using different environments such as road running, cross-country running, hill running or on a treadmill at the gym. If you do not want to run by yourself, there are running clubs in most towns that welcome new runners of all ages and standards.

Swimming

Swimming is a popular way to start getting fit because most towns have a pool, it is relatively inexpensive and you need virtually no kit! Most pools also offer lessons if you're a non-swimmer, or you haven't been swimming for years and want to improve your technique. Even swimming just a few lengths gives your body a good workout and the harder you swim, the greater the benefit to the heart and lungs. It is also an effective form of fat-burning exercise and has the advantage of water supporting your weight and taking stress off your joints, so you can put your body through a good workout without your knees, hips or spine suffering.

Cycling

Benefits of cycling include a healthy heart – it is very good for the heart and lungs – and weight control. Cycling burns about 300 calories an hour, so if you do it twice a day, it soon helps with weight control when  combined with a sensible diet.  If it is possible to cycle to and from work, this is not only good exercise but cheaper than driving or using public transport! Because a bicycle supports your body, cycling isn't a weight-bearing exercise and so can be good for people with bone and joint problems.

Dancing

Dancing is largely an aerobic activity that improves the condition of the heart and lungs, as well as testing your balance. To dance for any length of time, you need to have muscular endurance and a good level of general fitness. Anyone can dance (even if you think you can’t!) – all you need to do is enjoy moving to music. This means dancing is suitable for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Start gently and gradually build up to the right level of activity.  Dance classes are run at local colleges, social clubs and leisure centres, making it a good way of meeting other people and socialising.

Going to a gym

Gym activities include aerobic exercise such as running, rowing or cycling machines, weight training, and classes such as aerobics or aerobic dance. All ages and fitness levels are catered for and improvements can be measured and exercise programmes tailored to your needs. Many people like exercising in a gym because of the routine and discipline involved, and it can be a great place to exercise on days when you can't face going out into the rain!