Try This… Free Ways to Get Fit
It’s a popular time to think about our fitness, but it’s also the time of the year where we’re most feeling the pinch. Here are some of the best ways to get active locally without breaking the bank
Walking for Health
Getting our trainers on and putting our best foot forward is the easiest way for the vast majority of us to increase our fitness. It’s low risk and low impact yet provides huge benefits to both physical and mental health and offers a great way to explore your local area and meet new people. Many local community groups offer weekly or monthly walks and are always looking for new faces.
Looking to get active but worried about where to start? Take part in the free Walking for Health scheme operating throughout the South West to get involved with guided routes led by trained volunteers. Walks are short and over easy terrain, aimed particularly at those who live inactive lives but want to make a change. Volunteers are on-hand to provide encouragement, support and first aid if necessary. With over 45 groups within a 15-mile radius of Exeter there is sure to be one close to you. Find your local group at www.walkingforhealth.org.uk
Join a Parkrun
Parkruns have continued to grow in popularity massively in recent years thanks to their fun, inclusive nature and, more importantly within this guide, the fact they’re completely free to take part in! Parkruns take place every Saturday morning with a set 5k route organised by local community groups. Children aren’t left out either with 2k junior parkruns for children aged 4-14 on Sunday mornings. With no time limits and no emphasis on competition it’s a chance to run, walk or jog at your own pace, set your own goals and even make new friends.
Local parkruns include Haldon Forest, Exeter Quay, Cranbrook Country Park, Exmouth seafront, Seaton, Teignmouth Promenade and National Trust’s Killerton and Parke estates. Simply register online, print your barcode and head to your local event. To find your nearest, head to www.parkrun.org.uk
Free Fitness Classes
Age UK offer a variety of different exercise and fitness classes available to senior citizens. They can help you maintain a healthy weight, strengthen your muscles, boost your mood and support your thinking skills. From dance, yoga and seated exercise to walking football and tai chi – there is something for everyone. Find out more at www.ageuk.org.uk
As part of their Connecting Actively with Nature project, Active Devon is offering free 8-12 week introductory activity classes for people aged 55+ in running, cycling, pilates, Nordic walking and more. Book yours at www.forestryengland.uk/haldon-forest-park/introductory-classes-over-55s-haldon-forest-park
Hit the Outdoor Gym
While they’re not quite a replacement for an actual gym membership, outdoor gyms provided by councils around Devon provide an opportunity to exercise while out and about – and for free. Contact your local council for your nearest locations.
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This manageable there and back route offers easy walking and wheeling along the eastern side of the reservoir and to the dams, plus additional access to the wildlife trail in the Burrator Arboretum