Our Top Tips For Getting Fitter In 2018
Ah, January. After one too many mince pies and enough booze to float a yacht, we all feel the need to get ourselves back into shape after Christmas. We’re here to lend you a helping hand, with hints and tips on exercise equipment you can use to achieve your fitness goals.
Of course exercise isn’t just about trimming your waistline. It can also relieve symptoms of stress and anxiety. By participating in group activities, you can also improve your fitness whilst socialising and having fun. As well as discussing the health benefits of exercising, we have a range of sports activities that are great for encouraging youngsters to be more active.
When it comes to losing weight, strength training reigns supreme. Whereas cardio exercises burn calories whilst you’re exercising, strength exercises continue to fight the flab long after you’ve finished. Strength exercises help to increase your lean muscle mass, a completely different beast to fatty muscle tissue. Lean muscle improves your metabolic rate. And when your metabolic rate is burning brightly, it decreases the rate at which you pile on the pounds.
Strength exercises don’t begin and end with lifting weights. There are loads of other activities you can do to increase your muscle strength, size and power, from walking, running and cycling to push-ups, lunges and squats. You can easily tell when you’re working your muscles because you’ll start to feel the burn. Forget about going in all guns ‘blazing and pumping iron until your temples pop; heed our advice and take a break whenever your muscles start to ache.
You can use dumbbells to build and strengthen all sorts of muscle groups. Although they’re synonymous with arm exercises, you can incorporate dumbbells into everyday exercises to strengthen your biceps, triceps, glutes, hams and more. For example, you can perform dumbbell squats, lunges, deadlifts, lying presses and abdominal crunches. Dumbbell exercises also increase your heart-rate, making them perfect for a cardiovascular workout.
Originating from India over 5,000 years ago, yoga is a mind-body exercise that involves practising different postures to improve your strength, balance and flexibility. Whilst practising yoga poses, you also have to perform diaphragmatic breathing techniques which are designed to focus your mind on the moment. Consciously focusing on your breathing helps to calm the nervous system and forget about any worries you may have, which is why yoga is such a popular form of exercise with sufferers of stress, anxiety and even insomnia.
Pilates also involves practising different body postures, with an emphasis on developing core strength and balance. The exercises are designed to strengthen the body in an even way which helps to improve your posture, muscle tone, balance and joint mobility. The practice was invented by Joseph Pilates to help veterans recover from injuries sustained during World War I and is still recommended by many physiotherapists today. By improving your core strength and balance, Pilates can reduce the risk of back problems and muscle injuries recurring.
Yoga and Pilates are accessible to all age groups. No heavy lifting or complicated equipment is required and you can practice poses as simple or as complex as you like. All you need is a yoga mat which are made from foam to comfortably lie down on. Most mats have a non-slip surface which stops them sliding around on smooth flooring and provides greater traction when practising more complex poses. Yoga mats can be rolled up into a compact size and most include a strap to carry to classes or retreats. You can also use a variety of props to support your weight when performing different poses, including yoga bricks and yoga wheels.
Thanks to the lure of television and computer games, it can be an uphill struggle inspiring children to get outdoors and get active. Basketball and netball are a fun way to do just that. Children can practice on their own or play with friends as part of a team. The stop, start nature of the sports – passing the ball, running around the court and shooting hoops – helps to burn calories, build muscle, increase endurance and improve balance and coordination. Reports indicate that a 5 stone child can burn up to 400 calories per hour whilst playing netball or basketball.
All that you need to play basketball and netball are a hoop and a ball. Hoops either come pre-attached to a wall-mountable backboard or to a freestanding post. Posts are available in a range of sizes to suit all age groups from 5 years up. You can even buy height-adjustable stands so that children can continue to play as their height increases. As a general rule, the higher the hoop, the harder it is to shoot, which makes them perfect for children to use as their shooting skills improve. Professional stands are ideal for more experienced players with features including rebound systems to return the ball and spring-mounted rims to slam-dunk like your favourite NBA pros.
Trampolining is another fun way for children to exercise. A report conducted by the space boffins at NASA, who use trampolines to acclimatise astronauts to their low-gravity conditions, revealed that trampolining is 15% more effective at burning calories than running. Bouncing up and down like a kangaroo and trying to touch the stars also increases your heart-rate, lowers your cholesterol and improves your lymphatic function. Trampolining is also great for the older generation. The springy surface reduces the impact of landing as you bounce, making it a fantastic low-impact exercise for grown-ups with bone, muscle and joint problems.
Trampoline parks have seen a huge surge in popularity with new ones popping up in towns and cities throughout the UK every year. These indoor playgrounds provide kids with a vast space to bounce around and have some fun. Many merge trampolining with ball games and other group activities to encourage children to socialise as they’re working out. They’re perfect for the cold, rainy months when conditions are too perilous to trampoline outdoors.
When summer comes, there’s nothing to stop children from trampolining in the garden as and when they please. Garden trampolines come in a range of sizes and colours to suit any outdoor space. The top choices are trampolines with foam padding and safety nets which are designed to protect children from falls and injuries as they bounce around and play.