How to improve fitness and health for FREE!

Christmas is on the horizon…. trees and decorations will start appearing soon and most of us will be preparing for a week of indulgence (acceptable, as its Christmas; a time to be with family and close friends… and it only come around one a year). Inevitably, it will be all over in a flash, the evidence: a lighter bank account and trousers and skirts that feel a little tighter!
Many will wake up in January vowing to get fit and some will take steps…. join a local gym, join a fitness class or even find a reputable personal trainer! There will be more lycra clad people beating the pavements in jazzy gear. These are all good but can be challenging to maintain for various reasons…. does the new gym programme really suit you and the time you have available? Does running on hard surfaces cause niggles and generally leave you feeling exhausted? Do you enjoy the activity?
Exercise is great and most of us need to take more according to government and NHS studies. However, we are generally time poor; juggling work, families and time with friends.
What is exercise and what constitutes as good exercise? Defined as: an activity that requires physical effort. BUT it should be safe and appropriate for each person, taking into account relative fitness and strength along with any medical conditions. How long should we spend exercising? the NHS advise: “To stay healthy, adults aged 19 to 64 should try to be active daily and should do: at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity such as cycling or brisk walking every week and. strength exercises on 2 or more days a week that work all the major muscles (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).” The sceptic in me would question if the NHS eat their own dog food! Never the less this all seems pretty ambitious.
Generally, most of us have access these days to a good range of facilities and with so many options available where to start? Well you could opt for the gym, invest in a bike, swim, go running or enroll in a High Intensity Interval Training Class – designed to make you sweat a lot, feel like you might experience a cardiac event and possibly cry! If none of these appeals but the idea of improving fitness and health does…then I would highly recommend getting out walking. Walking is greatly underestimated…. its free and importantly will strengthen the heart, lungs and should lead to some weight loss AND improve mental wellbeing. For those living local to Crowthorne, the new Bucklers Park development has a 3.7K trail walk with one small hill. There are shorter walks within the development all with decent paths suitable for buggy’s etc. For the more ambitious, head for Crowthorne woods or Swinley forest where there are kilometers of undulating fire roads to explore. Alternatively, you could head down toward Crowthorne station on the road or via the public footpath running through East Berkshire golf course and head up the Wellington College kilometer or even up to the Ridges. If pressed for time walk up the hills around Broadmoor. Why not form a walking group? there are some great mobile apps with a wide range of marked walks both local and country wide. Importantly, you should walk with some purpose to ensure the heart and lungs are being worked sufficiently and feeling a little breathless is a good measure. Start with a shorter distance and progress over time. Get out and walk your way to better health and fitness!

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