Were it possible to simply choose fitness, most of us would do so without hesitation. Tragically, it’s just not that easy, and achieving the kind of health and fitness levels that we aspire to can require some serious effort and perseverance. Late evening gym sessions, calorie counting and much temptation resistance are just some of the many considerable undertakings lying in wait for those brave enough to pursue the seemingly insurmountable challenge of getting fit. But need it be so? Surely a life of sound consumption habits, healthy eating and regular physical activity doesn’t have to be quite so arduous.
Here are some of the ways that we can set about improving our fitness with physical activity that’s fun, engaging and accessible:
1. Competitive sport
From the relatively easy-going summer midweek game of rounders to the slightly more demanding 5-a-side football, team sports are fantastic way to spend time with people you (mostly) get on with, run about and get the adrenaline flowing. Join a cricket team if that’s your thing, or meet up with friends at a local basketball court if that’s your bag. Whatever team sport you’re into, if you’re looking to get fit and stay active, there’s probably no more enjoyable way to do it.
Perhaps the only problem with team sport is the organisation factor. It can be tough to keep the regular 10 people needed for Wednesday night’s indoor football reliable and punctual over the course of a few weeks, let alone months or years. So, if you find that’s the case, why not try tennis, squash, table tennis, golf, rowing to name but a few?
2. Individual sports
Plenty of sporty types aren’t actually into competitive sports at all. They prefer other types of physical challenge, such as running, indoor climbing, cycling, martial arts, skating. These are all fantastic activities to get involved in, relatively easy to get started, accessible and fun to enjoy with others. In the case of running and cycling, you may find that you get to see parts of your local area or region that would have otherwise remained unknown to you, while sports like boxing and martial arts will do wonders for not just your health and fitness, but your self-confidence, also.
Exercise isn’t all about hard work and no play; it can also be creative, artistic and fulfilling. Romantic, even. Perhaps you’re a gym regular who wants to back up all muscle flexing with something that’s a little softer. Maybe you’re a yoga aficionado that wants to jump up and down and explore your physical limits. Tango and salsa classes are fantastic for partners, ballroom is perfect for Strictly fans, Zumba will see you really pushing yourself, flamenco is wonderfully expressive, line dancing is brilliantly social.
Apart from anything else, learning something new is as exciting a pursuit as any, and taking up a class in a dance you’ve never tried before can be extremely rewarding. It’ll help you get a sweat on and shift any surplus weight while, miraculously, keeping a smile on your face throughout.
Photography Felipe Pilotto