Being physically active helps us manage our weight, reduces our risk of disease, strengthens our bones, and muscles, and improves our ability to perform daily tasks.
Physical activity can reduce your risk of major illnesses like coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer by up to 30%, as well as your risk of dying prematurely. People who engage in regular physical activity also have a 30% lower risk of depression.
To mark National Fitness Day on September 20th, we spoke with Square Health personal trainer Tim Arnold about several fitness challenges for people of all levels to try and stay inspired and motivated.
Your challenge will be to increase your steps by walking. It's low impact, requires little equipment, can be done at any time of day or in any weather (though sleet, rain, or snow aren't as pleasurable), can be done at your own leisure, and it's FREE!
What you need to do
How long does it take to walk 2,000 steps?
Assuming an average stride length and a moderate walking pace, it is estimated that 1,000 steps will take around 10 minutes. However, this is only an estimate, and each person's results may differ. So, 2,000 steps moving with intent at a moderate pace will take you 15 – 20 minutes and 2,000 steps is equal to walking around one mile.
The health benefits of increasing your step count
Daily walking helps strengthen bones, lower excess body fat, improve cardiovascular fitness, and build muscle strength and endurance. Other benefits also include:
Measuring your steps on your phone to keep track of your progress
You can already use your phone's built-in step counter for free. Below are links to 'how to' guidelines for setting it up so you can measure your progress and set goals for yourself.
You're already pretty active, which is great for your health, but let's shake things up a little and push you out of your comfort zone. Your fitness challenge is to introduce some specific exercises focusing on movement, some examples for you to think about and try out are:
What you need to do:
Choose one or two movement exercises and gradually increase the frequency and intensity. In the case of swimming, for example, if you swim once a week, you will need to swim twice a week.
If you currently swim 30 lengths, consider swimming 75 lengths, which will take around an hour and burn over 1,000 calories, equal to running 10km.
Some of the health benefits of swimming
One of the most significant advantages of swimming is that it trains your entire body from head to toe, and swimming:
Every week, try to increase the frequency and intensity of your chosen movement exercise. Have fun!
Exercise is a part of your everyday life; but you may have become stuck in an exercise rut; it happens to us all. It's time to try something new, something that will train different muscle groups than you're used to and take you out of your comfort zone.
What you need to do:
Find something you've never done before, such as a race or a competition that you can aim for. There are numerous options available throughout the UK, ranging from 'Tough Mudder' events to 'Nightrider London', to mention a few.
If you are always weight- training then try some yoga or Pilates classes in person or online. Pilates enhances mobility, which can aid with lifting, as well as abdominal endurance, hamstring flexibility, and upper body muscular endurance.
If you’re very experienced with yoga or Pilates, then you can try weight or resistance training. Weight training, or any sort of resistance training, can provide numerous health benefits. What you might not know is that weight training can help alleviate many of the negative symptoms of menopause, such as hot flushes and weight gain. Don't worry, you won't look like Arnie from Terminator, but you will have stronger bone density and resistance training will help you lose excess body fat, so you will look better in your clothes.
The key to these challenges is to ensure that your workout is always diversified and that the relative levels of intensity of what you are attempting to perform are maintained. Have fun and push yourself to become a fitter, healthier version of yourself.
Tim has over 15 years of experience in the health and fitness sector, initially working for a large health club chain and now running his own fitness practice in West Sussex, which comprises a former CrossFit gym and a personal training studio.
Tim also has a thriving online coaching business where he focuses on his clients' health, fitness, nutrition, and overall well-being. He is also a member of the ‘Register of Exercise Professionals’ and the ‘Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity.’