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Keeping fit

There are lots of ways to improve your fitness without having to join a gym. Joining a local sports team is a great way to spend your spare time and keep fit. You also get to meet lots of new people.

The benefits of getting fit

By keeping physically active, you're making sure that your joints and body organs are kept in good working order. Exercise can also help maintain your weight at a healthy level and can protect you against catching coughs and colds on a regular basis.

You’ll also feel an increase in your energy level and brain activity. Knowing that you're looking and feeling good can also give your self-confidence a real boost.

How much exercise do you need?

If you're under 18, you should try to do a total of 60 minutes of physical activity every day. You don't have to do it all in one go, but in chunks of at least 10-15 minutes throughout the day. This includes everything from pumping iron in the gym to walking up stairs instead of taking the lift. The key thing is that the activity should increase your heart rate and make you feel warmer.

If you're over 18, aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week.

A good idea is to try out a whole range of physical activities to see which ones you enjoy the most. Once you've decided the sorts of exercise you enjoy, you can plan what type of exercise you're going to do and when.

Before you start

If you've decided to start an exercise routine, it's important to go and see your doctor for an examination. Your doctor will be able to let you know how much exercise you should be doing to begin with.

They'll also let you know if you have any medical conditions like back pain that can limit the type of exercise you do.

Fitness for free

Getting fit isn't all about gyms. Some forms of exercise won't cost you a penny and most types can easily be slotted into a busy lifestyle.

Think about:

  • cycling or walking to school, college or work instead of driving or taking the bus
  • running around the block a few times a week can improve your fitness level and you’ll soon find yourself running quicker and further
  • checking out the leisure facilities provided by your local authority; many have basketball hoops, tennis courts and football pitches that you can use free of charge

Team sports

Getting fit isn't just something you have to do by yourself. Playing team sports like football, hockey or netball is great exercise, but is often more enjoyable because you're with a group of friends.

Your school, college or university may run sessions in the evening, or you might want to get involved with a local team. You can find details of local clubs on the internet, in the phone book or at your nearest leisure centre. Your local authority can also give you information of sporting activities in your area.

If you think that your neighbourhood needs some better sports facilities, why not apply for some money from the Youth Funds?

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