There are lots of ways to improve your fitness without having to join a gym. You can go for a walk, cycle in your local area, or even join a local sports team. These are great ways to meet new people, socialise and keep fit.
The benefits of being active
By keeping physically active, you're making sure that your joints and body organs are kept in good working order. Exercise can also help maintain your weight at a healthy level and can protect you against catching coughs and colds. Other benefits iclude an increase in your energy level and brain activity. You may also sleep better and be able to cope better with stress and anxiety. Knowing that you're looking and feeling good can also give your self-confidence a real boost.
How much exercise do you need?
If you're under 18, you should try to do a total of 60 minutes of physical activity every day. You don't have to do it all in one go, but in chunks of at least 10-15 minutes throughout the day. This includes everything from going to the gym to walking up stairs instead of taking the lift. The key thing is that the activity should increase your heart rate and make you feel warmer.
If you're over 18, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.
If you do want to start exercising and get fit, you should try out a whole range of physical activities to see what you enjoy the most. Once you've decided which activities you like, you can plan what type of exercise you're going to do and when.
Before you start
If you've decided to start an exercise routine, it's important to see your doctor for an examination. Your doctor will be able to advise you on how much exercise you should be doing to begin with. They'll also let you know if you have any medical conditions, like knee or back pain, that can limit the type of exercise you do.
Fitness for free
Getting fit isn't all about gyms - some forms of exercise won't cost you a penny and most types can easily be slotted into a busy lifestyle without having to find an extra few hours in your day.
- walking - a healthy form of exercise which can fit into everyday life
- cycling to school, college or work
- jogging or even running around the block a few times a week can improve your fitness level
- checking out the leisure facilities provided by your local council - there may be basketball hoops, tennis courts and football pitches that you can use free of charge
Getting fit isn't just something you have to do by yourself. Playing a team sport like football, hockey or netball is great exercise and is often more enjoyable when you're with a group of friends.
Your school, college or university may run sessions in the evening, or you might want to get involved with a local team. You can find details of local clubs on the Internet, in the phone book or at your nearest leisure centre. Your local council can also give you information of sporting activities in your area.