Last year the second most popular new year’s resolution — after eating healthier foods — was to exercise more. And for good reason. Research shows that even a 20-minute walk each day is enough to reduce your risk of heart disease by almost a third.
Staying fit has other benefits too: it reduces the risk of diabetes, dementia, strokes and certain types of cancer. It helps your mental health too — exercise causes endorphins to be released in the brain and reduces stress. It boosts self-confidence and eases anxiety by making you feel stronger.
As the NHS puts it: “Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had but, for too long, we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose.”
To stay fit, aim for 20 minutes per day doing a variety of activities. If you are not a naturally sporty person, don’t worry — there is something out there for everyone. Why not try some beginner’s yoga in the comfort of your own home? Download a step counter app to your phone and set yourself a daily walking target? Or go for a bike ride with your friends one weekend?
Whatever you choose, remember to pace yourself and stay hydrated. It’s not about being the best, it’s about looking after yourself and having fun!
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Meet the 15-year-old who beat Venus Williams during last year’s Wimbledon. She is clearly an exceptional young athlete, but what lessons could the rest of us learn from her attitude to sport and exercise?
- As a class, complete this 10-minute yoga routine, designed for the classroom. Don’t worry about space — it is entirely standing poses. Afterwards, discuss how the short activity made you feel.
- Create a poster or advertisement which encourages young people to exercise.
- Write a report about a sports star you admire. What have they achieved and why are you inspired by them?