The festive season might have given you extra motivation to get back in to your daily routine this New Year, or maybe you’re looking to kick-start January by getting more active with a healthier lifestyle.
If so, these simple fitness tips from Slimming World’s experts will help you find easy ways to build activity into each day.
From fun-filled activities with the kids, to getting your groove on while you do the household chores, or just getting off the bus a stop early – here’s how you can make the most of all 2020 has to offer.
1 Start small
You don’t have to run marathons, play team sports or even join a gym to get fitter and improve your health. If you’re just getting started, simply aim to move more than you usually do.
That could mean getting off the bus a stop early, parking the car further away from work, or taking the stairs, not the lift.
Every step really does count and you’ll soon notice a change in how much you can do, and how much you enjoy doing it.
2 Snow business
Why let the kids have all the fun? Building a snowman and having a snowball fight are enjoyable ways to get active outdoors, but all that shovelling, throwing and dodging is actually good exercise. No snow? Make balls from pairs of socks and have a sock ‘snowball’ fight instead.
3 Into the woods
A trip to the woods is always a hit with children – especially if you find something for the nature table along the way.
Compete to see who can collect the best-looking fallen fir branches, pine cones and holly sprigs. Squatting down to pick them up gives thigh muscles a workout – and you can take what you find home to make decorations for next Christmas, too!
4 Ad-break boost
As well as putting the kettle on, you might be surprised how much exercise you can fit into all those TV advert slots. Stay motivated by setting yourself a different challenge each time – just how many lunges can you do before your show starts again?
5 ’Tis the season to shop
Choosing a cheaper edge-of town car park rather than a pricey town-centre one won’t just help your budget. All those extra steps are fantastic for boosting your daily exercise, and walking with bags full of clothes you’ve bought in the New Year sales is even better exercise. Carrying any kind of weight creates resistance, so your muscles work harder.
6 Olympic games
When it’s cold and wet outside you can burn off energy indoors. Whether it’s a sprout-and-spoon race or an indoor hockey tournament using kitchen roll tubes and a sponge ball – a winter family sports day will keep everyone entertained.
You could even make your own medals for the winners.
7 Out and about
Fresh air, lovely views, birds singing – no wonder a study found that people who head outside for a stroll feel their mood lift in less than 15 minutes. And while any walk that makes you feel warmer and speeds up your heart rate brings benefits, walking uphill works the muscles even harder, so find some inclines.
8 Strike a pose
Yoga uses body weight, so it counts as one of your two recommended strength exercise sessions a week. It’s also a good de-stressing activity, encouraging you to slow your breathing and release tension through gentle stretching. Try an online beginners’ tutorial or find a class and get through the winter feeling calm and a bit more in control.
9 Musical chores
Vigorous cleaning counts as exercise, and music has been shown to motivate us to get moving. So when you’re getting the house spick and span during the spring clean, cranking up the music could help you increase the pace – speeding up your heart rate and the housework.
10 Run for it!
Signing up for a winter fitness event is a great move-more motivation whatever the weather . Most are suitable for all fitness levels and running in fancy dress is completely optional.
11 City breaks
Cities are great places to rack up steps, whether exploring on your own or on a guided tour. You’ll probably be so absorbed by the sights you won’t notice how much ground you’re covering. To help put your body into its prime walking position – head up and shoulders back – cast your eyes up to the tops of the buildings ahead of you.
12 Strut your stuff
Strictly Come Dancing may have finished but learning to dance could be just the start for you. A dance class is a great way to exercise and it also gets your feel-good endorphins flowing.
13 Swimming at a stroke
Swimming is a great way to stay cool and active – it works your whole body and it’s easy on your joints, too. If you find just doing lengths a bit dull, look out for free apps to join virtual challenges to swim stretches of water, from Loch Ness to the Great Barrier Reef.
If you fancy being more active, getting some fresh air and doing good all at once, volunteering could be just the thing. Websites such as do-it.org list all sorts of opportunities across the UK.
15 Get the kids involved
If you’re struggling to get back into your normal exercise routine, find child-friendly activities to motivate you and help you get back on track. Oil your bike chain and go on a family cycle, or play tag in the park. If you’re at home, keep active in the garden – skipping, hula hooping and ball games are all inexpensive ways to keep moving.
16 On your commute
Walking to work, whether it’s all the way or getting off the bus or train a few stops earlier, is a fantastic time saver – you’re combining your exercise with a journey you already do every day. And as well as creating a healthy routine, it might even result in you enjoying your job more.
17 Be a sport
There are lots of reasons to give a sport such as indoor tennis a go. This full-body workout improves coordination, helps your heart health when played regularly, and is a great way to socialise while getting in some exercise. For advice on getting started, or to find your nearest court, visit lta.org.uk/play.
18 Move to the beat
Exercising to music can make it more fun. Tap in to the power of your favourite tunes and it may even keep you going for longer!
If there are days where it can be tricky to fit in exercise, this is where one-song workouts come in. When you have a spare few minutes, just turn on the music and dance, or do a mix of toning moves such as squats, jumping jacks and sit-ups for as long as the track lasts – you’ll find tons of inspiration online.
19 Walk more briskly
Brisk walking is a fantastic form of physical exercise and just 10 minutes a day provides a number of health benefits. Going for a walk as a family also helps as it is a great way to spend time together. No wonder so many families wrap up warm and head out together in their boots and wellies in the winter.
For tips on how to incorporate more walking into your daily life, as well as a free app that tracks exactly when you are walking briskly and reaping the benefits, search ‘Active 10’ online.
20 Share your success
Doing things in a group can be great fun, so buddy up!
Encourage friends and family members to feel as good as you do and build activity into their daily life too.
Rather than meeting friends for a coffee and cake, find an activity you all enjoy, or join a fitness class for a giggle and a workout. If you do it together, you’re more likely to stick to it too.