Getting in shape for spring

Spring is a time for shedding layers, but if you are planning to look good in the latest season’s fashions you may want to try shedding a few pounds too.

Losing a little weight and toning up after a long cold and overindulgent winter can be a bit of a chore, but it can repay the work you put in by helping you look better and feel great with lots of extra energy.

Walking, running, the gym - anything you can do to get your body moving will put you in a better place mentally as well as on the right road physically.

What are you aiming for?

Getting in shape does not always mean losing weight. Perhaps you just want tone up, or even just enjoy the feeling that you are doing something good for your body. If you identify why you want to get fit and set a realistic target it will help you power through a tough workout or give you the willpower to say "no" to that extra helping of cake.

Don’t make your fitness regime a battle. If you find activities that you enjoy, you will look forward to being active every day, rather than be tempted to skip a session (which soon leads to skipping every session) Be realistic about the time you can spend and avoid the "Don’t have time today" excuse by planning a short but effective exercise session. Set a time for physical activity and stick to it. You’re more likely to find time to be active if you do it at the same time and on the same days each week and even just a 10-minute workout can be enough to make a real difference. If your body works hard enough to get your heart rate up, you are helping it get fitter – and you could be burning calories at the same time.

What do you need to do?

Busy mums and dads, kids, young people, office workers and older adults can all benefit from a spring tone up, especially if it leads to building the physical activity habit into their lives.

The amount of activity you need to do each week depends on your age. The NHS has some guidelines:

Set a time for physical activity and stick to your plans. You’re more likely to find time to be active if you do it at the same time and on the same days each week. But once you have worked out home much exercise you need, what is the best way to get it?

What’s the exercise for you?

Runningis one of the easiest forms of exercise that you can start with. You don’t need any fancy equipment, you don’t need an expensive gym membership and if you have not done it for years, you can start off with a brisk walk.

Move on up to jogging, and when your body tells you its ready, you can actually run. Don’t push yourself too hard. Always make sure you keep a bottle of water with you to stop your body getting dehydrated.

You can go swimming any time a year as most towns will have their own public swimming pools. Take your time and build your muscles slowly, some of the muscles you’re going to be using may not have done any serious work in a long time. Regular swimming will help build and tone your muscles as well as giving you a cardiovascular workout for your heart.

If you are serious about getting in shape, the gym may be the place to do it. You can find machines to let you concentrate on improving those parts you think need work, as well as whole body workouts that will improve your general fitness. Find a gym near to you on Activity Alliance’s website.

Finally, remember, there is no "right" way to get in shape there is only what works for you. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too many ambitious goals at once and remember, being healthy should feel fun. If it is something you look forward to every day you have more chance of sticking to it!

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