All work and no play probably did make Jack a dull boy - and probably quite an unhappy one too!
Whilst it’s important to keep our ‘eyes on the prize’ and work towards our own personal fitness goals, there’s still plenty of room for fun and, in fact, even the fun can have huge health benefits and complement our other activities quite nicely.
I almost think of it as a bit of a fitness gift when I feel physical benefits from doing something I’ve really enjoyed. Of course, I enjoy training otherwise my choice of career as a Personal Trainer would have been a strange one but messing around with friends and family or playing a game of something I’ve not played for ages, gives a whole different level of joy.
There are the more obvious activities which tend to happen naturally when you have a young family, a wide circle of active friends or if you’re on holiday, away from the everyday stresses and strains of your job – I’m thinking walking, riding bikes and swimming.
Walking is always something you have in your back pocket. It’s the ultimate back-up exercise you can do at any time, with little in the way of equipment required (just suitable footwear really, no stilettos please!) and you can take it anywhere with you. And there’s always the opportunity to go ‘up a gear’ by turning a gentle stroll into a longer hike or swapping the flat route for something with a bit more of an incline. Picking up the pace is another great way to increase the heart rate and introduce some real cardio without feeling that you’ve entered full gym mode.
Cycling too can provide that extra kick for your fitness if you choose a more challenging track, extend your route or give yourself a bit of a time target. The real trick is to find the right balance between the fun and the fitness. Remember that this is just a bonus to your existing programme and therefore is all good, regardless of whether you get incredibly sweaty or not. And your 7 year old daughter or son may not thank you for turning the family outing into an endurance challenge…
It’s a similar case when it comes to swimming. Clocking up the lengths can be great for your muscles, your endurance and your fat burn but a bit of ‘messing around’ in the water will also have its benefits and a ‘sculling on the spot’ competition with the rest of your family offers a great workout for all.
Away from the more obvious…
Why not try your hand at skateboarding and use muscles you forgot you had! You’ll be concentrating so hard on keeping your balance (and probably laughing a lot!) that you won’t notice what a fabulous core workout you’re getting.
Self-defence classes provide a full body work-out, are fabulous for core stability and balance, and will boost your confidence no end.
A family game of rounders is generally a multi-generational pleaser, accessible to most people’s abilities and a highly enjoyable way to have a serious bit of competition.
Video games are perfect for those cold, rainy days when no one fancies going outdoors. A few rounds of the Super Mario Olympics, Just Dance or Wi-Sports (other brands and games are available!!) gets the blood pumping and the competitive muscles twitching too!
Dancing, gardening badminton, football in the park… there really is an almost inexhaustible list of things you can do, whether it’s to complement your existing training routine or as a way to make a start to a healthier you. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, but fun is almost always guaranteed!!