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The best forms of exercise for those who hate the gym

The best forms of exercise for those who hate the gym

With all the amazing advances in science and medicine, it's a great disappointment to me that nobody has yet come up with anything much more effective for weight loss than eating less and exercising more. For many of us, exercise is a chore rather than a delight.

And the gym isn't for everyone. Once, I drove the 20 minutes there, got my kit out, looked at the David Lloyd sign and simply couldn't face it. I got back in my car and drove home.

Why exercise?

Huge numbers of studies have found exercise benefits our health. For example, exercise has been shown to reduce our risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis. It improves our mood and sleep, and may even reduce our risk of developing certain cancers and dementia.

Regular exercise helps to protect against obesity of course, and increasing current exercise levels can help if you are overweight and trying to lose some pounds. The bad news is you will probably also need to have a rethink of what you eat, as getting fitter isn't the only answer for most.

Personal trainer Taylor Anderson says: "Some types of exercises can help encourage weight loss better than others: specifically, resistance training. I'd recommend compound exercises (moves that utilise more than one joint) such as squats, lunges, bent over rows. Some other great exercises for building muscle/encouraging weight loss that don't require a trip to the gym are planks, step-ups (on to a chair or bench) or press-ups."

"I would also recommend high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for people looking to lose weight - alternating periods of hard work with short rest. A beginner's HIIT workout might incorporate 10 moves (jumping squats, walking lunges, press-ups, crunches, jumping jacks, high knee running), where a person works hard for 30 seconds, rests for 30 seconds and moves through all 10 exercises in 10 minutes."

Public Health England advises 150 minutes of physical activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more. This might feel like a tall order, but it can be done in a way that becomes an enjoyable part of your life. Honestly.

It doesn't have to cost a penny

Evidence shows that a brisk walk can be just as good for you as running. You can go for a walk or run without spending anything. Or a bike ride. Assuming you own a bike. And live somewhere you won't be mown down by passing traffic.

The trick is to make it fun

We're all different. So different things will rock one person's boat compared to another. Think outside the box to find an exercise that you will genuinely enjoy, so that you want to get out and do it. Are you a Strictly fan? Try taking dancing classes. Got a dry or artificial snow slope near you? Learn to ski. Take up ice skating. Or roller skating if you aren't a fan of the cold. Go to roller discos. Embroil friends and family. Or use your new hobby to escape them!

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Make it sociable

If you like company, find a form of exercise where you are out with others. Go for a walk or a swim with a friend and catch up on the latest gossip. Get a dog. Join a class - Zumba, exercise, spinning, or Pilates. Try a team or competitive sport (see below).

Get competitive

Is there a team sport you would enjoy? Play netball, football, or basketball either through a club or more informally with friends. Or tennis, squash or badminton. Rustle up some like-minded friends or contact a local club or sports centre to ask what is available. Take up judo, karate, or taekwondo.

Use technology

A whole generation of kids suddenly got more active when the Pokémon Go app craze hit us. There are many more out there. Apps you can use to count your steps, monitor your running, be your personal trainer. Public Health England has produced a free 'Couch to 5K' app to help you get out and running, with the option of the likes of Sarah Millican or Michael Johnson in your ear. Consider a Fitbit which will count your every step and tell you how many calories you used today.

Look at the options on the Nintendo Wii, Xbox or PlayStation. You can get up a sweat with dancing, skiing, boxing, Kung Fu, Zumba, workouts and even tennis.

In the comfort of your own home

Invest in a couple of exercise DVDs - there's a whole industry out there. Buy an exercise bike - there are numerous inexpensive folding ones available. Plonk it in front of the TV and start working your way through the Game of Thrones or Big Bang Theory box set. Or look at the options in the game consoles above.

Make it individual

I've barely scratched the surface of options. Just think outside the box. If you enjoy something, you'll keep on doing it regularly.

Right then, I'm getting off my backside to go and be thrashed at Just Dance on the Wii by my kids.

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