Being active doesn’t necessarily mean pulling on your hiking boots and heading for the mountains.
While there’s no doubt exercise is good for you, there are lots of indoor activities which will stretch (and tone) those muscles, get your heart beating faster and put a spring into your step.
Whether it’s swimming, pilates, aerobics, dancing or indoor bowls, the key thing is to find an indoor activity you enjoy doing.
Swimming is a great form of exercise no matter what your age or ability. Swimming builds muscle strength and stamina and is good for your heart. And because it’s low impact with no stress on your bones or joints, you’re unlikely to end up injured.
If you are 60 and over, you can swim in your local council swimming pool free of charge outside school holidays (though some councils provide free swimming for over 60s during school holidays too). Armed Forces personnel and veterans are also entitled to free swimming in local council leisure centres by using their Defence Privilege Card, available through the Minister of Defence.
If you can’t swim, you could attend aqua aerobics or aqua gym classes, or just enjoy walking and splashing around.
Or you could learn to swim. Most local councils run swimming classes for adults.
Most towns have leisure centres which offer a range of indoor activities, including aerobics classes and racket sports like badminton, squash and table tennis.
There is now gym membership to suit all pockets, with membership fees often less if you restrict your attendance to off-peak, daytime hours. Most offer a range of classes as well as the standard gym equipment and the more expensive have indoor swimming pools. Choose one nearest your home or place of work, you’ll be more likely to go.
Disabled sports and activities
Disability Sports Wales works with over 750 sports clubs and groups across Wales to provide outdoor (and indoor) sporting opportunities for disabled children and adults. Search for activities in your area or contact your local disability sports development officer. Call: 0845 8460021.
The Paralympic Movement has summaries of all the competitive sports that are included in the Paralympics, with details on how to get involved.
Whether it’s ballroom, tap or Latin that takes your fancy, dancing is one of the most sociable exercises around. There are dance schools all over Wales and most welcome beginners, either in special classes or as part of an established class (check if you need a partner).
Tea dances are also growing in popularity and are a great place to socialise with friends.
National Exercise Referral Scheme
If you have been inactive for a long time and it is having a detrimental effect on your health, e.g. weight gain, high blood pressure, depression, your doctor or other health professional might refer you to the National Exercise Referral Scheme. The idea is that you have a short-term, supervised programme of physical activity to get you moving again. Ask your GP for more information.
Yoga and pilates
Yoga involves moving the body and training the mind so it’s good for our physical and mental well-being. The twisting, postures and focus on breathing improves the circulation.
Postures can be adapted to suit individual needs, for example wheelchair users or those with long-term conditions like arthritis or Parkinson’s disease.
Contact the British Wheel of Yoga for classes near you.
Pilates is a gentle form of exercise which will tone and strengthen your core muscles without putting any stress on the joints. If you suffer from lower back pain, poor balance and co-ordination or (for women) weak pelvic floor muscles, you may find pilates helps.
Find an instructor and/or classes near you at Pilates.co.uk.
Martial arts are a great form of exercise, regardless of age or ability and combine physical and mental well-being with self-defence. There are over 30 types of martial arts, with clubs all over Wales.
Judo is the only martial arts to be include in the Paralympics and attracts many blind and visually-impaired athletes. Contact the Blind Judo Association or Welsh Judo for more information.
Tai chi has been described as the perfect exercise for older people as it encourages muscle strength which in turn can prevent trips and falls. The slow, repetitive movements of Tai chi also encourage co-ordination and relaxation as well as mental calm and well-being. Find a class near you.