We all know exercise is a good thing.
Like us, you’ve probably heard it brings a long list of benefits such as a lowered risk of heart attack and stroke, better mood, reduced risk of dementia and an increased life expectancy.
Always a bonus if you don’t have premature death on your list of must haves for 2016.
Sometimes, though, it can be tough to actually get yourself off the sofa and into motion. This is especially true if you hate the gym and don’t see yourself as a sporty person.
If this is you, don’t worry. We’ve found four unusual activities which might just persuade you to swap your tiger-tail onesie for a tracksuit and get you reaping those health benefits right away.
- Qigong (pronounced ‘chee-kung’)
An ancient Chinese system of exercises, qigong roughly means ‘energy work’. Viewed from the outside, qigong isn’t particularly dynamic; on the whole it’s a gentle practice which fuses breathing exercises with physical movement and mindfulness.
The aim of qigong is to help you increase the vitality and resilience of your mind, body and spirit.
Good for: older folks, the very unfit and people recovering from illness and injury, because you can customise the practice to your level of ability.
You don’t even need to leave the house to do it. But don’t underestimate the power of qigong – it can be an effective workout, and gets real results.
If you’ve got a dog and walkies just aren’t enough, why not give flyball a try?
It’s an exceedingly fast and furious obstacle race for canine athletes, often run as a relay event.
It’ll make your heart beat faster, too. When you see high-level flyball, it looks as though the dogs are doing most of the work. But just try it with a badly-trained springer spaniel and you’ll soon see who gets the run-around.
Good for: spending quality time with your four-legged best friend.
- Outdoor swimming
Robson Green gave outdoor swimming a massive thumbs up with his 2009 TV series Robson Green’s Wild Swimming Adventure. But don’t let that put you off.
If your only experience of swimming is chlorine-stung eyes and a boring view of tiles, outdoor swimming will be a revelation.
Sure, in Britain it’s usually a chilly activity, but you’ll get to see your local waterways and wildlife as you’ve never seen them before. Combine it with coasteering for a real outdoor buzz.
Good for: confident swimmers who’d like to do more than indoor length after boring indoor length like a captive, desperate orca.
Can’t bear the thought of pounding away on a treadmill while watching CNN on a never-ending loop?
We don’t blame you.
“I was never really a team sport person, which is probably one reason why I love orienteering so much. It’s just you, a map and a compass, out to find your way through some of the most beautiful and wild places the country has to offer. You don’t have to be super fit to take part (many people walk rather than run). And once you start orienteering, treadmill and track running becomes, well, just plain boring!”
Good for: Pretty much everybody of every age, all shapes and sizes, and any fitness level. It really is a sport for life – it’s quite normal to see children of ten sharing the final run-in with grandparents in their eighties.
Get up and get involved
To try any of the activities we’ve mentioned here, just paste your chosen sport into a search engine and add the name of your town. This will put you in touch with local enthusiasts and organisations, all of whom are usually only too delighted to welcome newcomers.
If there’s nothing near you, or if you prefer to set up your own circle with people you already know, you can always use the Loose Ends app to let your friends know it’s game on. And don’t forget to get in touch with us to tell us how you’re doing.