The surest way to shape up is to find an activity you really enjoy – then move it up a gear when your body is ready. Follow our three-step plan and watch your fitness goals get closer
Walking, running, cycling and swimming for increasing your stamina and overall fitness because they can be enjoyed at any level and needn’t involve major expense.
If you’re new to exercise, begin at step one. Making great strides towards your targets? You’re ready for step two or three. Remember, challenging your body ensures you won’t get stuck in an exercise rut.
If you want to try walking…
Step 1: START SMALL
If you’re new to fitness, walking is a top choice to get you going. It’s easy, free, you don’t need any equipment and it gets you from A to B – so what’s not to like?
‘For motivation, buy a pedometer or download one of the many free pedometer apps for your smartphone,’ says Stuart Amory, a personal trainer and Nordic walking instructor. ‘Set yourself a target of 5,000 steps a day. Each week, add 1,000 steps to your target until hitting 10,000 steps a day comes naturally.’
Step 2: MOVE UP A GEAR
There’s safety – and sociability – in numbers, so as you begin to add distance and pace to your walks, seek out a local walking group (we love ramblers.org.uk and walkingforhealth.org.uk). You may also want to invest in a pair of walking trainers or hiking boots and some all-weather kit; camping and outdoor activity stores are good places to shop for these, as they can give expert advice. To improve your walking style, check out Walkactive (joannahall.com/walkactive): a posture-focused walking technique developed by diet and movement specialist Joanna Hall that can help to maximise your efficiency, weight loss and toning.
Step 3: GO FOR IT!
There’s nothing like a charity challenge to spur you on to greater achievement – how about a walking marathon, or an overseas hiking or climbing adventure? Visit walkthewalk.org for ideas.
Or try Nordic walking. ‘This is a dynamic style that uses special poles to bring your upper body into the workout, boosting your strength and aerobic fitness,’ explains Stuart. Plus it burns up to 46% more calories than walking without poles. Find out more at britishnordicwalking.org.uk.