Eight Ways To Kick-Start Your Health
Use your park
Many local parks are now offering outdoor gyms or fitness trails that are fun to use – and free. Why not get a group of friends together for regular outdoor group workouts? Or try joining a ‘parkrun,’ which is a great scheme that offers free, weekly 5km timed runs in parkland surroundings throughout the UK. These are open to everyone, whatever their ability. Sign up or find out more here.
Regular walking could save 37,000 lives a year, according to the Walking Works report by Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support. It’s a great way to meet new friends and keep your body and mind healthy. Research by the University of East Anglia (UEA) has shown that frequent outdoor walking, particularly in groups, can cut your risk of stroke, heart disease and depression. It’s an effective weight bearing exercise, too, useful for building healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis (thinning bones). Ideally, aim for 30 minutes of walking a day. Find a group near you here, or telephone 020 7339 8500 or more information! Walking can lift your mood, help you sleep and boost creativity - click here to see how!
On your bike
Sport England says cycling has seen one of its biggest boosts from people over 55. Regular cycling can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes. British Cycling has loads of leisure, charity, guided and event rides you can join in with, for all abilities. See more with Sky here.
Get close to nature
Scientists have found that spending time in a natural environment causes electrochemical changes in the brain that boost your personal, emotional and physical wellbeing, calming and restoring you. Why not try one of the National Trust’s many nature trails throughout the UK? You could learn new skills by volunteering with them, too, to help preserve our natural heritage
Try walking football
Have you heard of this gentler take on the beautiful game? It’s exactly what it sounds like – a slower paced version of regular football with no sprinting, running or jogging allowed on or off the ball. Recognised by the Football Association, with national tournaments, and played by football legends such as Alan Shearer and Harry Kane, it now has over 800 clubs in the UK - find your local club here!
Weather too bad to get out? Try one of these to keep up the good work…
Regular swimming can reduce the risk of chronic illnesses and boost mood. There are lots of local council and NHS incentives to get people swimming, and it’s never too late to learn. Find your local pool here, and download the ‘Speedo Fit’ App, to help you improve your swimming using your smartphone!
Computer sports games are a good way to build up your fitness if you’ve been inactive. Have a go at Wii Sports (£19.99 from Nintendo). You can play tennis, bowling, baseball, boxing and golf, so why not borrow the grandkids’ Nintendo Wii console if you don’t have one!
Pilates and yoga
We wrote a guide looking at some of the best ways you can stay fit and healthy after retirement.
These are both relaxing ways to exercise gently while building core muscles and improving strength. ‘Pilates helps release tension, improve posture and increase flexibility,’ says Lynne Robinson, co-founder of Body Control Pilates. Find a Pilates teacher near you at using Pilates Foundation, or find a local yoga class here.
Check with your GP before starting an exercise programme if you have been inactive for a while. More fitness tips and advice here.