We have all been guilty of slipping into an unhealthy lifestyle, especially as dark nights creep in, temperatures plummet and the sofa beckons. The new year, however, brings new opportunities and the chance to make even the smallest of changes which can result in a much healthier way of life
We all know that physical exercise, no matter your age, is good for you but do you know how good? Besides the obvious, regular exercise can help to reduce the risk of major illnesses, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. According to the NHS, just 20 minutes of exercise a day is enough to stay healthy.
There are many changes you can make to your day to day routine, most of which are very simple, yet effective, in helping you to become more active: such as walking up and down the stairs instead of taking the lift and even walking short distances – such as to the local shop or school.
In addition, there are countless other ways to get active that will match your age group or ability. There are many alternative psychical activities that do not involve having to take out an expensive gym membership or dig out your old running shoes. Swimming is a fantastic all-rounder; most local pools are open all year and swimming offers gentle but effective exercise which can be done at your own pace. This is especially good for those wanting to lose weight or who are suffering from arthritis. If you can’t swim, it’s never too late to learn! Many local swimming pools offer helpful classes that match your ability, including aqua exercise classes which offer aerobic exercise in the water.
Yoga and Pilates, favoured regularly by celebrities, are extremely successful fitness programs. Pilates is a series of exercises, which work to strengthen all the major muscle groups while improving flexibility, strength and balance. Yoga focuses on breathing and meditation. Both of which help to improve muscular and postural strength but also stress management and relaxation.
Uplift your mood
Another benefit to getting active, is the improvement it can bring to your mood. Need an emotional lift and to blow off some steam? Then physical excise is the answer to combating the January blues. It may also help to improve your energy levels, helping to boost your endurance and strengthen your muscles.
You might also find that regularly exercising, whether that be a brisk walk or a gym class, can help to promote a better night’s sleep. If you’re struggling to get to sleep or even stay asleep, then physical activity can help with both. However, it’s worth noting that you shouldn’t exercise too close to bed time, as you may find that you are too energised to sleep!
Take count of your habits
However, even with regular excise there are many habits that can de-rail our hard work; including excessive alcohol consumption and smoking. The quickest way to see results is of course to give them up or cut down. Giving up smoking for instance, can help to improve your health and energy levels – and if you have decided that this is the year to start a family, your fertility. Within just nine months of giving up smoking, your lung capacity can increase by up to 10% and your blood circulation will also improve which can help you exercise more effectively too.
However, if you decide that gentle is not for you and you want to feel the burn, many local gyms will offer fitness programs tailored to your needs with exercise classes and a personal trainer who will design and supervise a programme for you. This can be an expensive option and needs commitment on your part, however it will consider your current levels of fitness and will not push you beyond these limits. Most gyms will also have Jacuzzis and hot tubs so the relaxation following a strenuous exercise session may have its own benefits!
The future of fitness 2018 saw a rise in fitness technology with devices which you can wear to monitor your heart rate, calories burned, and number of steps taken. Pole exercise (for those with the strength and balance) was also a very ‘celebrity friendly’ exercise regime but what does the future hold for 2019?
It would appear the new year is bringing in fitness trends relying on DNA testing which can interpret the type of exercise you need to do dependent on whether you have the fat gene. A slightly more physical option would be death metal yoga designed to relieve stress and provide you with a work out at the same time. Forget your ideas of traditional calming yoga, this relies on your ability to head-bang, kick, punch and play air guitar (sounds fun!).
Should you be more ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ than ‘Motorhead’ then the flotation tank is set to make a come-back. It’s a form of sensory deprivation which has been proven to have calming benefits when used following intense exercise. ‘Alone time’ has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce blood lactate levels. When combined with the benefits of physical exercise this can improve body awareness, stability and reaction times. Whatever resolution you make to be fit and healthy in 2019 – enjoy it!
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