How To Keep Fit Without Spending A Fortune
It’s that time of year when you’ve eaten a load of junk over Christmas. You’re looking to eat a little healthier and feeling energized to keep fit. Money is tight for young people at the best of times, but the bank of mum and dad is tight in January as well. How can we keep healthy on the cheap?
Gym’s can be ridiculously expensive but there are lots of cheap (or free) ways to keep fit. How about trying out a new sport? You could get a few friends together for a regular kick about or go running or walking together. If your friends and family aren’t as motivated as you, you could look for a local sports team and join in with other like-minded people. There are plenty of alternatives to joining a gym that are likely to cost a lot less.
Run, Forrest, Run
There are great health benefits to running, it’s completely free, it can be done at anytime of day and it’s a great way to get rid of any excess weight.
The NHS has some great support for runners. They run a great program called couch to 5k. This is designed to take the very beginner from the couch to running a distance of 5 kilometers/3 miles over 9 weeks. You can download a free app for your phone to monitor your progress, there’s a motivational podcast to listen to when out running and inspirational articles about the experiences of others who have attempted the challenge.
If you’ve already started running but looking for a little motivation to give you a kick-start this January then have a look at parkrun. These are weekly runs, organised locally, that take place all across Wales as well as other parts of the UK. They are completely free to join. These are timed runs that takes place every weekend. This gives runners the motivation to train throughout the week in order to compete against others runners, or just your own time.
The thought of running with other people, especially speedy adult runners can be a bit daunting at first. But there are lots of people of all ages, shapes and sizes that take part in Parkruns. At some park runs you can even take your dog along with you for a bit of moral support. Take a look at their website for details on how to register.
Walk your way fit
Walking is one of the easiest ways to keep fit. It doesn’t have to feel like you’re making a huge effort to exercise. If you’re meeting up with your friends to hang out and chat anyway, then why not do this while walking? You could actually save money by taking less buses and walking places instead. The beauty of walking is you can do it anywhere; you can do it during your break/lunch time at school/work by just walking and talking around the yard/streets. Build a brisk walk into your daily routine. Even this level of activity on a regular basis will improve and maintain your fitness.
The NHS suggests that 10,000 steps per day is a recommended amount of walking to maintain health and fitness. For more information and useful tips on walking check out this article on FamilyPoint.cymru.
If you are going out running or walking remember to keep yourself safe. Try and go during daylight hours and tell an adult where you are going and when you’re planning on being back. Take your phone with you incase you need to call someone to come and get you. If it gets dark before you get back and you can use the torch on your phone.
Count your steps
Did you get a fitbit (other brands are available!) at Christmas? Or is there someone in the family that has a pedometer that they’re not using that you could borrow? If not then you can always use your smart phone by downloading the myfitnesspal free app and using it as your pedometer (you can also monitor your diet on this app). Set yourself a daily step target and try and beat it every day.
You could register for the Wales Pedometer Challenge. Let’s Walk Cymru allows you to challenge yourself, your family, friends or colleagues to see who can clock up the highest amount of steps. You can register as an individual or a team (school, work, family etc). They have monthly league tables that you can try and aim to be on top.
If motivation is your problem why not set yourself a challenge for a date in the future and work towards it. It can be difficult to know where to start and that’s often why people use expensive personal trainers and gym services. But there are free alternatives, like realbuzz.com where you can set your own health or fitness challenges. They have a list of challenges you can set yourself, guidance on the level of challenge to pick, how long it will take and a bespoke training plan.
Training within a team can be motivational too. If you want to get out and get fit but don’t fancy getting out there on your own, why not think about joining a team or a group who keep fit together. There’s a great website called Meet ups which facilitates group meet ups across the country. There is a category on sport and fitness all you need to do is pop in your postcode and start browsing. Just remember to follow safety advice, take someone with you and tell someone where you’re going.
Don’t forget to benefit from the free swimming available to those under 16. Every local authority has free-swimming sessions on weekends. During school holidays these can happen daily for up to 14 hours of free swimming a week. Swimming is a great full body workout which uses all of the muscles in your body but in a low impact way. It keeps your heart rate up, burns calories and builds muscle strength.
Use your leisure centre
Remember your local leisure centre. Check out their latest list of activities and classes, nowadays they offer lots of deals for young people.
We hope these tips will help you in your aim to get healthy and fit. If you’re worried at all about your health or fitness, concerned about the way you look, or want to talk in confidence to someone about anything that’s worrying you, then contact our friendly advisors on the Meic helpline.
Meic is an information and advocacy helpline for children and young people aged 0-25 in Wales. We are open 8am to midnight, 7 days a week. You can contact us free on the phone (080880 23456), text message (84001) or online chat.