Sweaty bodies, people posing, bad music…there’s a lot to dislike about going to the gym.
It’s no wonder that a Fridge Raiders survey found Brits waste more £4 billion a year on unused gym memberships.
Fortunately, there are many other ways to improve your health – and because they’re things you can slot into your daily routine, you might find them easier to maintain.
Read on to discover six ways of getting healthy without going to the gym.
1. Work out at home
Exercise is a proven way of boosting your physical and mental health. According to the NHS, it can reduce your risk of major illnesses by up to 50% and lower your risk of early death by up to 30%.
There’s a common misconception that exercising has to involve forking out on expensive gym fees or signing up to a Tough Mudder.
In fact, exercise can be carried out from the comfort of your own home, which may come as a relief when you have the not-so-Great British weather to contend with.
Here are some of the ways to work out at home:
- Try the NHS’ ten-minute home cardio workout
- Buy (and use!) an exercise DVD
- Play the Just Dance video game
- Download an app like 7 Minute Workout or Sworkit.
Even gardening counts as physical activity, so you could combine getting healthy with sprucing up your flower beds.
2. Cook healthy meals
What you eat has a direct effect on your health and wellbeing. Eating healthier in winter might seem challenging, but there are lots of dishes that are comforting as well as good for you.
The British Heart Foundation has a great selection of healthy comfort food recipes, presented via simple step-by-step videos. It even features mac ‘n’ cheese and pizza.
There are also 50 quick and healthy recipes on the BBC Good Food website, including winter warmers like spiced carrot and lentil soup, tamarind prawn curry, and smoky beans on toast.
3. Go for invigorating walks
Walking in the great outdoors is a fantastic way of boosting your physical health. It can help you build stamina, burn excess calories, and make your heart healthier.
It’s also good for your mental wellbeing. According to the Mental Health Foundation, just ten minutes of brisk walking increases your mental alertness, energy and positive mood.
What’s more, walking is completely free and easy to fit into your daily routine. You can make it part of your journey to work or as a way of catching up with friends and family.
If you’re struggling to stay motivated, walking while listening to music or a podcast can help to take your mind off it.
4. Download a mindfulness app
Mental health can affect every aspect of our lives – from the way we think and feel to the way we act. If you’re in good mental health, you’re more likely to be able to make the most of your potential, cope with life, and play a full part in your family, workplace and community.
Taking part in a mindfulness meditation is one way of improving your mental health. Mindfulness is about learning to be fully present and engaged in the moment. It teaches you to be aware of your own thoughts and feelings, and the world around you.
People who achieve mindfulness are generally able to view their lives in a more positive manner and enjoy the things they’ve previously taken for granted.
Some mindfulness apps to check out include Headspace, Calm, buddhify, and Sattva.
5. Go to bed earlier
If you’re constantly sleep-deprived, it might be worth going to bed earlier. Moving your bedtime forward by just 15 to 30 minutes could make a real difference to your wellbeing.
According to the NHS, most adults need around eight hours of good-quality sleep a night to function properly.
Regular poor sleep puts you at risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes, so by hitting the pillow earlier, you could boost your chances of a long and healthy life.
6. Give yourself time to de-stress
Allowing yourself time to de-stress at the end of a busy day is really important.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, stress can result in feelings of anxiety, anger and sadness, and lead to physical issues such as headaches, nausea and indigestion. Long-term stress has been linked to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and cardiovascular disease.
There are lots of easy and enjoyable ways to de-stress, including reading a book, soaking in the bath, watching TV, or listening to soothing music.
No gym required
Whether it’s taking a brisk walk each day, eating healthier or having some ‘me time’, there are many ways to get healthy without dragging yourself to the gym.
It’s never too late to kickstart your healthy habits, so why not treat yourself to a luxurious bath bomb, exercise app or simple recipe book this winter? Your body and mind will thank you.