Put the Fun in Fitness

in Exercise

Getting fit doesn't have to mean joining a gym or a serious sporting team. Exercise can be fun and inexpensive, if you know where to start!

Getting Started

If you haven't been active for a while, getting started can seem a huge effort. Start slowly with activities you enjoy and step it up when you feel ready. Overdoing it in the early stages will result in aches and possibly damage to your muscles and joints.

It is very important that you see your doctor before starting on any new exercise program, particularly if you are:

  • Very overweight;
  • Over 40 years;
  • Prone to fainting, dizzy spells or chest pain;
  • Already diagnosed with a serious illness, or at risk for heart disease;
  • Pregnant.

According to Australia's National Physical Activity Guidelines, the minimum recommended amount of exercise is 30 minutes of ‘moderate' activity at least five times a week. ‘Moderate' activity is anything that causes a slight but noticeable increase in breathing and heart rate.

  • Remember always to warm up before and stretch after exercise;
  • Try a combination of various activities, ‘cross-training' promotes better aerobic health;
  • If you feel tired, rest – but remember that regularity is the key to fitness;
  • Choose an exercise that you enjoy, you'll be more likely to stick with it.

Fun and Low Cost Activities

Walking is the cheapest option for getting started. Incorporating walking into your daily routine is easy to do. Why not walk sometimes instead of driving? You could try:

  • Walking with your kids – it's fun and passes on healthy habits;
  • Walking with friends, or find a dog for company;
  • Choosing various paths and different routes to minimise boredom, or walking at different times of day;
  • Driving to different walking tracks and parks for variety.

Most city and regional areas have walking clubs for all ages and levels of fitness. Search the web or contact your local council for information.

For safety, remember:

  • Wear a hat and sunscreen at all times of day;
  • Wear appropriate shoes;
  • Take water with you.

Other fun and simple exercises include:

  • Swimming or gentle bicycle riding;
  • Golf or tennis with friends;
  • Yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi at your local community centre;

Dancing is quickly becoming a national pastime. Various companies such as the Australian Dance Council offer classes for adults at all stages. Classes are usually casual and there are always beginners classes offered.

Team sports might be daunting but there are many available to people of all ages and states of health. The Government sponsored Ausport website is national and extremely helpful.

Benefits for All Ages

The benefits of being active are plentiful. Advantages include:

  • Feeling energetic and strong;
  • The release of endorphins, the body's "happy" chemicals;
  • A reduction in stress and anxiety;
  • Weight loss;
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and osteoporosis;
  • Increased flexibility and movement;
  • A good night's sleep.

If you have children, being active shows them a way of being fit that's fun and simple. Children model their parents' behaviour, and active children are more likely to be fit and energetic in adulthood.

  • Family exercise time doesn't have to be a chore for anyone – turn off the TV once a week and try something different, like bowling or skating.

Over the age of 50, starting an exercise program can be tough, but not impossible. It is vital that you see a doctor first to establish what kind of workout is right for you.

  • It is a myth that older bodies don't need as much exercise, or are too weak. Exercise is still vital.
  • The activities may be different from your younger days, but still hugely beneficial.

If you have a chronic illness, consult closely with your doctor and physiotherapist to create a personal and fun fitness program.

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ElizabethMclean has 1 articles online

Monica Davidson writes for Australian health insurance provider ahm. For more about leading a healthy lifestyle, health insurance andhealth cover, visit the website.

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This article was published on 2010/10/21