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GUIDE TO GETTING FITTER
Your Host Amjad Mahmood MD (Family Medicine)
Walking is the most natural exercise of all; brisk
walking is great for stamina, but not quite so good for suppleness or strength, so far
all-round fitness its best to take some other form of exercise as well. As you get
older, walking regularly will help keep you active and mobile. You will enjoy getting out
and about. Walking is excellent for relieving stress and tension.
Add a little walking to your journey to work, Or to the shops. Explore the parks
in your area. Get a local street map, or take a car or bus ride into the country where you
will find plenty of footpaths and bridle ways. If you would like to walk in company and
explore the country there are group and clubs you can join. If you go into the hills, make
sure you are properly equipped. Wear strong, comfortable shoes and thick warm socks.
Plenty of layers of thin clothes are better than one thick layer. A waterproof coat will
protect you from wind and rain. And a hat is important for keeping warm. Take expert
advice when necessary and tell someone where and when you are going.
If theres an ideal activity, its
swimming. Its excellent for strength, stamina and suppleness, especially if you use
various strokes. Its a great way to get fit and stay it. Swimming is especially good
if your are overweight or have any backache, stiffness or disability, because your body is
supported by water.
Any one of nay age can learn its never too late. Ask about lessons for your age
group at your local swimming pool. Many pools have special sessions, like over 50s, adults
only, parents and babies, or parents and toddlers. You can swim alone, or with friends or
family and swimming is fun especially in pools with chutes, slides and waves. It should
not cost much. Most pools have season tickets and special rates for lunch time or early
morning sessions. There are often special rates if you are unwaged or retired. Modern
swimming pools should be warm. Have pleasant changing rooms and cafeterias, and notice
boards where you can find out whats going on. If you find you like swimming and get
good at it, there are lots of water sports like windsurfing or sub aqua diving you could
Cycling is great for stamina and leg strength. It
wont do much for your suppleness if you are young, but if you are older it will
really help to keep you moving.
Once you have got a bike, cycling is a cheap and easy way to get about. You can
cycle alone or with family or friends. There are lots of groups and clubs who organize day
trips, weekends away and holidays. Although a new bike is quite expensive. You can shop
around for a good second hand one, or borrow or hire a bike for a couple of days before
you decide to buy one you can ask for advice at a bike shop without having to buy bikes
are very cheap to maintain. To avoid traffic accidents make sure you know your Highway
Code and avoid busy roads. Use cycle tracks where you can. Children can take cycling
proficiency tests. To find out where these are being run locally contact the public safety
or road safety department of you council. If you are cycling at night make sure your
lights work and wear light colored clothing and a reflective chest band which you can get
from a sports or bike shop. Avoid cycling in fog or icy weather.
JOGGING & RUNNING
Jogging or running at an easy pace is really popular
now. Its fun, free and a quick way to get fit. Its very good for stamina but
not so good for suppleness or upper body strength. Theres some risk of over-use
injury to feet, knees, ankles, and hips but if you dont overdo it at first and run
on soft surfaces like grass when you can, you should not have serious problems. If you
have arthritis in your legs, hips or back or if you are overweight try cycling or swimming
The only expense is a good pair of running shoes. Take
care in traffic; avoid busy roads and jogging at night if possible. If you have no
alternative wear light colored clothes and a cyclists reflective chest band. You
dont have to jog alone there are lots of clubs you can join. Athletics clubs are
always glad to have new members and dont just cater for high performers. Whatever
you age and standard you will be able to find an event to join in. Some are competitive,
others are fun run but taking part will give you lots of satisfaction.
These are the three most popular
racquet sports. There are many others.
Badminton is fun even if your are a beginner. It
involves lots of bending stretching and leaping for high shuttles, so its good for
flexibility and strength especially leg strength. Your are moving all the time so
its also good for stamina. The better you get at the game the more energetic it
becomes. But you will get some benefit even as a beginner.
Badminton does not cost much and you can play all year round. Courts can be hired
at most local sports centers and you can play in school gyms and village halls or at
evening classes. There are clubs in most towns and villages. Racquets are not expensive to
buy or hire. You will need suitable shoes to support your feet when you are changing
direction suddenly not running shoes. Ask for advice at a sports shop.
The exercise value of tennis gets better as your
game improves. The bending, stretching leaping and running is good for stamina, pretty
good from suppleness, and certainly good for leg strength.
You need a racquet of the correct weight and with the right size of grip Ask for
advice at a sports shop. Playing on public courts can be very cheap. And they are usually
only crowded around Wimbledon time. Private clubs are more expensive and sometimes
difficult to get into, but it may be worth it if you like the game. Its an ideal
family game and joining a club can be sociable if you can afford it. Its getting
easier to play tennis all year round because there are now more all weather courts and
You have to be fit to play squash, so dont
play squash to get fit it can be a very hard, fast game. If you are fit squash can be
excellent for stamina, leg strength and suppleness. If you are middle aged, thinks very
carefully before taking up squash if you do start playing take it very gently at the
Always warm up before you play. Squash is played a lot in private clubs and may be
expensive. There are public courts for hire at many sports centers, and the equipment
should be within most peoples budget. Racquets can be hired. So you can try the game
without spending a fortune. You will need a good pair of shoes not running shoes. Ask for
advice at a sports shop.
Team games are not just for
school kids. They are good fun and good exercise for anyone. There are so many football,
cricket, rugby, hockey, net ball, basketball, volleyball, to name but a few that its
impossible to talk about them all in details here.
Most team games are very good for stamina and strength and pretty good for suppleness too
you dont have to play seriously. You can play just for fun in the park or on the
beach if you do want to play seriously its a good idea to train as well, so you can
reach a good standard and not strain yourself.
In all games, which involve twisting and turning, and sudden stops and starts,
theres bound to be some wear and tear, or even damage, to ankles and knees. If
theres body contact, like in rugby and basketball, you can also damage your fingers,
hands and shoulders. But if you just play for fun theres much less risk.
Getting involved in a club or a team can be a great way of meeting new friends.
Most teams cater for young players or for those who have played all their live, but if you
look around. You should be able to find one that plays at your level. Contact your local
leisure center. Or you might prefer to learn to be a coach or a referee.
Most team games dont take up much time.
Cricket is an exception because a match can be very long. But cricket is a lot more
strenuous than many people think. Its not a systematic way to keep fit, but an
active pastime for people of all ages.
Footwear is the only expensive thing, but if you
only play for fun you wont need expensive boots or shoes. And if you play for a football
or hockey team, they may supply some of the kit.
Many team games are seasonal, so its a good
idea to try our more than one like cricket in the summer and nettle or football in the
winter. Or combine a team game with something different, like tennis or swimming.
More and more people especially women are now using
weights. Whether you train with free weights or machines, weight training will make you
stronger. If you do a lot of repetitions using light weights you will also build up
stamina you wont become muscle bound, suitable training with weights can firm up your body
and help you become slim and supple. You need to learn the proper techniques for lifting,
or you risk damaging your knees, shoulders and back or straining yourself.
If you want to take up weight training, learn how to do it safely, join a class or
contact your local sports center or the leisure and recreation department of your local
authority for advice. There is weight training equipment at most sports centers, gyms and
clubs. You can buy weights cheaply for using at home. Mail order catalogues and second
hand ads are good place to look. You need a sturdy pair of shoes. You dont need a
special belt unless you lift heavy weights.
The martial arts originally came from china, Japan
and other Far Eastern countries. A wide range is now available in Britain, including
karate, kung fu, Aikido, and kendo.
These activities all involve a physical workout, relaxation and skill learning. They are
good for stamina, suppleness and strength. Judo is an Olympic combat sport. It is good
exercise for strength suppleness and stamina. It does not have to be competitive many
people enjoy judo in club without competing. There is some risk of injury because of the
physical contact with other people, and because you have to take falls. But you will be
taught how. In a good club people will be careful and injuries will be rare. Beware of too
strenuous warm-ups remember that all stretching should be slow and gentle and you should
never bounce into a stretch.
People of all ages can get fun and good exercise from the martial arts. There are
clubs in most towns in leisure centers, church hall, or school gyms. Subscriptions are
usually cheap. Make sure that the club belongs to the national governing body. If you are
not sure, contact your Local Authority Leisure and Recreation Department. Also make sure
your club has a beginners program and does not just cater for the elite. It is not much
fun being thrown around all-night of course, reaches will know how to look after older
people and beginners, but be careful.
Exercise classes are becoming very popular.
There are lots of new centers and classes being set up. Some are better than others are.
It is important that your teacher is competent and knowledgeable. If in doubt ask your
Local Adult Education or Leisure and Recreation Department for advice.
These covers aerobics, circuit training, exercise to music, women and mens keep fit
over 60s classes. Look after yourself classes and many others. Whichever sort you choose.
You will be working with other people, so it will be fun and a good chance to meet new
You will get an all over workout, which is good for
stamina, strength and suppleness. Some exercises will build up strength in your legs, arm
tummy and back, Gentle bending and stretching is good for suppleness. And aerobic
exercises, based on gentle jogging or jumping are great for stamina.
Make sure the class is at the right level for you. Its best to start off
with a beginners class.
There should always be a gentle warm-up at the beginning and a cool-down at the
end. Dont let yourself get uncomfortably out of breath. Teachers at adult education
classes will often let you try one class before you pay for the whole term.
Look After Your Heart: Look After Yourself classes include exercise, relaxation, coping
with stress, sensible eating and watching your weight.
In yoga you learn to control your movements
and your breathing, and you can learn to meditate, This can really relax you and take your
mind off your problems.
Yoga is excellent for suppleness and general relaxation because it is gentle and
controlled. Its good for strengthening muscles, especially in the stomach, hips,
thighs and back. Theres no real benefit for stamina.
You can take up yoga at any age. There are lots of classes available so it should
be easy to find convenient one.