How to get fit without setting foot in a gym

The idea of going to the gym puts many people off exercising, yet staying active later in life plays a big part in staying healthy.

Tennis balls on court

Enjoy tennis at any age

For some, going to exercise classes offers inspiration and a social element that is really appealing. For others, exercising in public can feel intimidating.

If you’re looking for inspiration to get off the sofa and get fit, here are our top 3 alternatives to going to the gym.

1. Build exercise into your daily life

If you can begin to build 30 minutes of exercise into your daily routine, you’ll start to see real improvements in your health and well-being.

Making simple changes to the way you go about your daily life can make a big difference in helping you to achieve the 30 minutes of exercise a day.

  • Walk to the shops instead of driving
  • Walk or cycle to work
  • Use the stairs, not the escalator or lift
  • Walk your dog or walk with a friend who has a dog
  • Play actively with your children or grandchildren
  • If you work, go for a brisk walk at lunchtime

And remember that exercise also includes time spent gardening, mowing the lawn, doing the housework, washing the car. You don’t have to do 30 minutes in one go – 10 and 20 minute sessions where you break a light sweat also count.

Read more about Over 50: why exercise is good for you.

2. Find someone to exercise with

Swimmer in pool

Get fit swimming

Motivation is very important if you’re going to build exercise into your life over the long term. It’s never too late to start or to raise your fitness levels again.

Having someone to support you can make a huge difference, whether it’s your partner encouraging you to go to that weekly class or a friend to exercise with.

If you want to begin exercising again but don’t know where to start, talk to friends and colleagues about how they keep fit, and find out if you can join them.

Find out more about Prolonging your sporting life.

3. Remember what you enjoy doing

It’s all too easy to forget the things we really enjoy doing, amid the noise of everyday life, work pressure and financial commitments.

Asking yourself the following questions can help you decide what exercise is right for you.

  • Do you like exercising on your own or with people?
  • Do you prefer an organised class or going for walks and cycle rides in the fresh air?
  • Do you have a favourite time of day to exercise?
  • If you work, are there classes you can join in your workplace?
  • Are you influenced by the weather – for example, if it’s a bit rainy do you prefer to stay indoors?
  • What prevents you from doing more exercise? Could you share a journey with a friend to your local swimming pool, for example?

Imagine what you want to be doing in 6 months time, and what health/fitness goals you hope to achieve by then. Write them down, and return to your list from time to time to encourage yourself, and reboot your inspiration.

Read about some members from our 1 Small Step community, and how they stay fit and well over 50.

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