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Driving to the shops, to work, to see friends, sitting in front of the telly, smoking & chewing tobacco, drinking cups of sweet tea & coffee mixed with a staple diet of samosa’s, pakora’s, baklava and purified ghee (butter)! These are the habits which have become the norm within our lifestyles today. We seem to be alien to the notions of healthy eating and regular exercise. Though the research and evidence on the long-term benefits of exercise and sport on social, mental, physical health and longevity of life are well documented.

Regular aerobic exercise like the ones we have listed, which significantly increase heart rate and leave you sweaty, can reduce depression, weight, anxiety and anger whilst increasing our sense of well-being. Check whether you have a healthy weight on our BMI Calculator.

Exercise can also significantly reduce the risks of cancer, heart disease, stroke and other vascular diseases, hypertension, blood pressure, diabetes, immune dysfunction, osteoporosis and a variety of other illnesses.

Furthermore, consistent exercise will also help control weight, increase life expectancy, improve muscle strength, blood circulation, balance, sleep and posture whilst the release of feel good hormones (endorphins & serotonin) in the mind will leave you feeling happier and more content.

A good exercise mix should include a balance between aerobic, strength and suppleness activity. All exercises detailed are aerobic in nature, the strength element can be addressed via a simple circuit training programme or one session per week in your local gym and suppleness stems from a strong stretching and warming up period before any exercise. A simple heart-rate monitor is a worthy investment that will allow you to take pulse rate before and after training. Remember, exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. So whatever your age, it is time to choose an activity, set some basic, realistic goals and give it a go.

Before starting any new exercise regime, it is important that you seek general advice from your General Practitioner(GP). This is especially important for anyone who has health problems such as, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, angina, or any other heart condition.


A pleasant and healthy form of transport, walking is a comfortable way of winding down and taking in the views. Try and treat it as a form of consistent, regular exercise.

As a low impact form of exercise, walking benefits the heart and lungs and works the muscles of the lower body whilst developing good blood circulation.

Try to include walking in your everyday programme. A brisk thirty-minute walk four or five times a week is a good start. Whether your going to work, shopping or collecting the children from school, leave the car at home! Gradually increase the distance of your walk by taking a longer route and alternate the pace from normal to fast to normal etc. Invest in a pair of good walking shoes. If you suffer from any medical condition, remember to take along your medication (i.e. inhaler).

Useful Links
www.bwf-ivv.org.uk - The British Walking Federation organises events for people of all abilities and ages.

A superb way to build fitness and good health. You don’t necessarily have to join a club or pay membership, just open the front door, do some simple stretching and warming up, then off you go! You can fit it around your lifestyle and routine. Some prefer the early morning and consider it an excellent way to start the day, whilst others enjoy running before dusk after work.

Start with a simple 5-minute jog once or twice a week and slowly increase your distance and run time. View the Flora London Marathon website to see a good beginners running programme. Purchasing a good pair of trainers, wearing loose/visible clothing, using well-lit streets and notifying someone about your route are all recommended. It’s also a good idea to take a bottle of water with you.

Jogging can be made more fun and enjoyable by joining a local running club or by organising a time with a friend to jog together. If you have never jogged before, do not over exert yourself and if you have any medical problems consult your GP before undertaking any programme. Jogging can be strenuous on the joints so the importance of good footwear and a soft running surface such as grass or tarmac can not be under stated.

Useful Links
The British Athletics website has a search facility to locate you nearest running club if you live in England - www.british-athletics.co.uk

For a comprehensive guide to all aspects of running, from reasons to begin, which shoes to buy and a beginner's running schedule visit - www.runnersworld.co.uk

Try the Couch to 5k Running Plan, which claims to transform you from a couch potato to a runner in just 2 months! www.kicksports.com

The Flora London Marathon website - www.london-marathon.co.uk

An extremely relaxing form of exercise, swimming is kind to your body, yet it can help boost stamina, suppleness and strength. Don’t be deterred if you have never swum before, as it is never too late to learn. All it takes is little courage to climb into the water and a few simple lessons. Start with a gentle warm up and then do one lap (25m) at a time and gradually increase at your own pace.

As a brilliant aerobic exercise, swimming stimulates all the major muscle groups and puts little stress on joints keeping them flexible, especially in the neck, shoulders, hips and groin as your limbs and body move through the water. With a variety of different strokes, such as front crawl, backstroke, breaststroke etc to choose from, you shouldn’t get bored. It is a good formula to slim down and tone up. It is especially suited for those with back problems, arthritis, weight problems or whilst pregnant.

Contact your local pool to find out details of swimming classes and times. Most pools offer separate sessions for different groups, women only, mother & child, men only etc. In a group atmosphere, you will feel more motivated whilst help & coaching are always at hand. Many pools also offer pool based keepfit classes amply called Aqua-aerobics. These are well recommended. Don’t forget your goggles, earplugs and hair cap if required. Swimming two or three times a week should be sufficient aerobic exercise to sustain a healthy heart and lungs.

Useful Links

The official Amateur Swimming Association offers some good general information for potential swimmers - www.britishswimming.org

Swimming Teachers Association gives details on courses offered, plus an online swimming equipment shop - www.sta.co.uk

Why take your car when the bicycle is available! Cycling is fun, healthy and challenging. Basic mountain bikes are reasonably priced and include light frames, shock absorbers, advanced gear systems and an all-together smoother, comfortable ride. This means it is suitable for anyone of any age, fitness level or background.

Environmentally friendly, cycling is a superb cardio-vascular exercise that works all the muscles, especially the calf, thigh and abdominal muscle groups. Cycling can play an important role in any weight management programme, enhancing strength, co-ordination and self-esteem. Once you begin a regular cycling regime, you will find a general improvement in your fitness within a short period of time.

Always remember to follow the Highway Code and ride sensibly on the road. Wear bright, visible clothing and a cycling helmet at all times whilst on the bike. Get out and about, enjoy the outdoors and feel alive!

Useful Links
The UK's Number One Cycling Resource Site, including over 200 pages of Cycling Information, Links, Chat Room, News, Event - www.cycleweb.co.uk

Advice for both the beginner and experienced cyclist, with details on training, fitness and nutrition - www.bicyclesource.com

Badminton is a great way to get in shape. Anyone can begin to play from a fairly low level of ability and fitness. It doesn’t take any specialist coaching and is quick to learn. Plenty of movement and activity around the court results in a good workout with marked improvement in general fitness and co-ordination. It is a good idea to choose a partner whose level of fitness and skill is similar to your own.

Everyone has played it at some time or other, so grab a friend or relative and book a court at your local sports centre. You will feel great the next day!

Useful Links
Badminton Association of England can assist you in locating your nearest club if you live in England - www.baofe.co.uk

Also view Badminton UK for club directories, information and coaching - www.badmintonuk.ndo.co.uk

Fast, furious and great fun, squash is ideal for those with a good level of fitness. Stamina, control, hand/feet co-ordination and a fantastic workout are usually the results of regular sessions. As with badminton, try and choose a partner with similar ability in the game. Squash courts are available in most local leisure centres. If you have never played squash, give it a try, you won’t be disappointed! Remember to warm up and warm down to avoid those aches and pains the following day!

Useful Links

The site for news on squash across the world - www.worldsquash.org
Packed with information on clubs, competitions and news - www.englandsquash.com

Contains the latest tournament results, rankings and squash news – www.squashplayer.co.uk

Cricket is a game which you will probably either adore or dislike. Its merits are sometimes under represented. A team game that requires commitment to progress and offers variety in bowling, fielding or batting. With active participation in a full game you will find your fitness being tested. Socially interactive, cricket is a great way to make friends. As a seasonal sport you may find play is sporadic so finding a supplementary activity is a good idea. A great way to spend a sunny day with the family!

Useful Links
The official site of cricket in England – www.ecb.co.uk

Cricket news, statistics, scores, club info, youth cricket and much more – www.cricketworld.com

Clubs, articles, news, all about UK cricket - www.ukcricketguide.co.uk

The mystical Japanese art of Judo is a sport that can be enjoyed all year round. It is both a team sport as well as a sport for the individual who can progress at their own rate in order to achieve his (or her) own personal potential. As a practical form of self-defence Judo comes highly recommended, with a diverse set of throws, kicks, holds and defence techniques. It promotes self-control, self discipline and nurtures strength and courage. An excellent activity for healthy being.

Useful Links
The official site of the governing body for Judo in the UK – www.britishjudo.org.uk

List of UK Judo Clubs - www.ukjudo.freeservers.com

Get the kids involved view - www.britishschoolsjudo.com

The International Judo Federation - www.ijf.org

Undoubtedly the most popular sport in the UK, no other team game seems to arouse such passion and emotion. You could say that even the spectators receive a work out just by watching! Young or old, everyone can have fun in a kick around, all you need is a ball and some space. Depending on position and team size, football involves random and unpredictable levels of intense or light acceleration, deceleration and sudden changes in direction.

A reasonable level of aerobic stamina is advised if you are holding a key position. If deciding to play regularly, you should engage in a weekly run and a football specific circuit-training programme, to help build cardio-vascular endurance and lower body strength. The risk of muscle or joint injury is increased due to the nature of the sport, however circuit-training, stretching exercises and a good warming up session will help avoid injury.

Due to its popularity, there is a vast array of football clubs in the UK especially for youngsters. You could arrange your own five- a- side game with work colleagues or friends at a local sports centre or playing field. Regular play will enhance muscle strength, weight control, stamina and all round fitness. Start organising a game today, you won’t regret it!

Useful Links
Lists Sunday football clubs by county with forum and links -

Directory of UK football clubs -

The official site of the governing body of football in the UK - www.thefa.com

A good resource for football enthusiasts -

Photo Credits:
Football - Bradley Mason


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