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Stretch yourself with a bit of exercise to help get fit for life

Girl in yoga pose

National Fitness Day shines a spotlight on physical activity this September, inspiring us all to lead a more active lifestyle. This has got us thinking about what we could do to incorporate physical activity into our daily lives – and it’s surprisingly easy to do.

Start your day with some gentle tension-releasing stretches 

Taking the time to pamper yourself with some daily self-care is extremely important to your wellbeing. You can even start your day with some gentle, effective body stretches from the comfort of your bed!  And swapping your phone-checking habit with some stretches could be your ticket to a more flexible body and a happier day ahead. 

How to get moving

The stretches below can be done using a yoga-style approach which means moving with ease and smoothness. As you stretch, take deep, relaxing breaths and focus on slowly inhaling and exhaling.

Try bringing your knees up to your chest, either one knee at a time or both together. Hold the pose for 30 seconds, release and repeat. The movement warms up the spine and helps to release any tension that may have built up in your back while you were sleeping.

Next, sit up, straighten out your legs and bend your body forwards as far as it will comfortably go. Then, reach for your toes or shins, exhaling as you do. If you feel some tightness, bend your knees slightly. Stay in this pose for 10-15 seconds or for as long as you can comfortably hold it and repeat. This action will help to improve your digestion while stretching out your spine, hamstrings and shoulders so they feel less tight.

Create a new routine

If the word ‘fitness’ sends shivers down your spine and exercise just isn’t your thing, don’t worry: you only need to make some simple tweaks to your daily routine to benefit your emotional and physical wellbeing.

Here are a few things you might like to try:

  • Grab a bike and get cycling. Try cycling to work or simply getting on your bike whenever you need to make short trips. Cycling will boost your heart-rate and burn off some calories.
  • Get off the bus a stop early and walk the remainder of the way. Even a brisk 10-minute stomp with your arms swinging to the rhythm of your pace will soon start to improve your fitness levels if you do it regularly.
  • Love being in water? Then it could be time to go for a swim. Swimming can be an excellent work-out for those who’ve been advised to avoid weight-bearing exercise. Check with your doctor what’s best for you.
  • Combine getting fitter with making friends. For those who enjoy company but hate competitive sports, there are loads of clubs, groups and classes to choose from including walking, dancing, Pilates, yoga, swimming and aqua aerobics. See your local council’s website for more information about what’s available in your area.

So why not give exercise a go this autumn? It could mark the start of a long-term fitness regime that sees you healthier and happier for the rest of your life.

Download a copy of this article Stretch yourself with a bit of exercise to help get fit for life as a pdf.