Top 10 physical activities for people who don't like sport
There is growing concern about the inactivity epidemic in the UK and all the facts and figures show that regularly taking part in sport can have an enormously positive impact on a person’s health and happiness.
But what about those for whom the idea of competitive or traditional sport is nothing but a bit of a turn off?
Physical activity can dramatically improve quality of life – but it has to be something that will make you feel good and isn’t going to become just one more thing to tick off a long list of chores.
If you enjoy something then it’s much easier to make a habit of it. So if people are to make a long-term habit of physical activity then it is important that they find something that suits them and that they can enjoy making part of their routine.
So we’ve put together our top ten physical activities for people who don’t like traditional sport and now we’re itching to try some of them ourselves.
What happened when two Strictly Come Dancing stars and a former professional swimmer walked into a training session?
It sounds like the start of a bad joke. It was actually the start of one of the UK’s newest dance fitness programmes – FitSteps®.
Created by Mark Foster, Natalie Lowe and Ian Waite, FitSteps® is the first time that classic Latin and Ballroom dances have been brought together with proven techniques and principles to create a fun, energetic way for people to keep fit – even if they can’t dance.
Emphasis is placed on helping people towards achievable fitness results.
Although the programme is based around 12 of the most popular Latin and Ballroom dances don’t be put off if you have two left feet. The dances are broken down into easily learnable sections and each can be delivered at varying levels of effort to accommodate people with different levels of fitness.
To find out more about the programme and classes in your area visit the FitSteps® website.
2. Nordic walking
Nordic walking uses specially designed poles and an upper body action similar to cross country skiing to turn walking into a whole body exercise.
It can improve your posture and gait, strengthen your back and abdominal muscles and release tension in your neck and shoulders.
Walking with the poles reduces the impact to joints, making this a very accessible activity that can be enjoyed at many levels, from walking for health and fun to Nordic running.
It’s also a great activity for people who haven’t exercised for a while or who are recovering from an injury as the poles can be used for support.
Nordic walking instructors offer individual and group classes across the UK to help people get the most out of Nordic walking. There are also a number of community-based projects turning the activity into a really sociable way to keep fit.
3. Bagot Stack
‘Posture in action’ is the tagline for this activity. Bagot Stack classes are based on the methods and principles developed by Mary Bagot Stack in the 1930s to improve posture, mobility, muscle strength and stamina.
Bagot Stack is designed to improve your posture to help you move more freely and put less strain on joints and ligaments as well as mobilising your joints and building strength rather than bulk in the muscles.
It also encompasses breathing and relaxation and makes use of music to make the whole experience enjoyable.
To find out more visit The Fitness League website.
4. Roller derby
Ok, we may be going a little off-brief with this one seeing as it’s a full-contact competitive team sport.
But it does have an ever-increasing cult following and is rapidly becoming one of the most popular alternative sports for women.
Each team sends five players onto the skating track armed with quad roller skates, helmets and protective pads – one jammer (the point scorer), three blockers and one pivot (the last line of defence).
The game consists of a series of two minute jams. The pivots and blockers form a pack at the start line and the two jammers line up 20ft behind them. On the referee’s first whistle the pack starts rolling and then the jammers sprint on the second whistle.
The jammers’ aim is to make it through the pack of skaters and complete a full lap to enter the pack again. Once they’ve re-entered the pack they score a point for every opposing skater they pass.
The skaters in the pack have to try to stop the opposing jammer from passing them and scoring points while also helping their own jammer to get through.
They can do this by shoulder or hip-checking opposing skaters to shove them out of the way – making for a game that is fast, furious and full of adrenaline.
There are over 90 roller derby leagues in the UK including women’s, men’s, co-ed and junior clubs. So if you fancy getting your skates on visit the UK Roller Derby Association website for more information and leagues near you.
Photographs of Lincolnshire Bombers vs Bristol Harbour Harlots courtesy of Russell Stainer.
5. Just Jhoom
If you like your exercise with a hint of Bollywood then Just Jhoom could be for you.
Just Jhoom sessions take inspiration from Bollywood, fitness training and yoga to create a fun and dynamic activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and abilities.
Enjoyment is the aim of the game here with a light hearted activity that doesn’t take itself too seriously but still gives you a great cardiovascular workout.
Head to the Just Jhoom website for more information.
Aikido is a Japanese system of self-defence with origins that date back to the 12th century. It is based on spherical movements by which an attacker’s aggressive force is turned against itself.
The main Aikido techniques are joint immobilisation movements and throws using your opponent’s momentum. Wooden training weapons are used to practice some of the techniques.
Since it doesn’t require physical strength or aggressive spirit, Aikido is a form of martial art that can be practised by people of different ages and fitness levels.
It teaches and develops flexibility, coordination, balance and quick reactions, as well as a method of practical self-defence.
Traditional Aikido has always been non-competitive, but if you do want to take things further several styles have developed – including Tomiki Aikido – which introduces some competitive aspects.
For more information or to find your nearest Aikido club visit the British Aikido Board’s website.
7. Medau movement
Pioneered by Hinrich Medau in 1920s Berlin, Medau combines work on cardiovascular fitness, strength and suppleness as well as rhythm and mood.
A range of influences – from farmers working in the fields to American basketball players – inspired Medau’s exercises for harmonious whole body movement, flow and economy of effort.
Medau classes are designed to have a very positive impact on each individual’s overall fitness and mood. Small apparatus like balls or hoops are used in activities to improve balance and coordination, reaction times, stamina and energy levels.
To find out more visit the Medau movement website.
8. Ice skating
Ice skating is a hugely popular activity that lots of people have a go at during the festive season when outdoor ice rinks tend to spring up in city centres all over the country.
Ice skaters travel over an icy surface on bladed boots. Ice skating also forms the basis of lots of the sports you’ll see at the Winter Olympics – from figure skating to ice hockey.
As well as being great fun, ice skating can be great for your fitness if you do it regularly.
With its emphasis on quick foot movements and supple knees, ice skating is good for improving joint flexibility and strengthening your leg muscles. An ice skating session can also be a real workout for your heart and lungs – as long as you give it a bit of oomph!
It’s equally useful for improving mental fitness too, helping to develop high concentration, memory skills and spatial awareness.
Once you’ve mastered the basics and are gliding around the ice like a pro you might like to try moving on to figure skating, ice hockey or speed skating.
To find more information about ice rinks and Learn to Skate courses near you head over to the National Ice Skating Association of Great Britain and N.I. website.
Photograph of Widnes Wild Senior Professional Ice Hockey team courtesy of Geoff White.
Bokwa® is a new approach to group exercise that is rapidly spreading across the globe.
It’s a group fitness programme done to music but it’s not really a dance workout – there is no choreography or counting steps involved. Instead, Bokwa® participants draw letters and numbers with their feet, which makes the routines easy to learn for people of all ages and abilities.
This also means that, because the steps always follow the same structures, once you’ve learnt them you could turn up to any Bokwa® session from Taiwan to Texas and know what you’re doing.
For more information about how to get involved visit the Bokwa® Fitness website.
10. Artistic roller skating
This is a sport similar to figure skating but which, unsurprisingly, uses roller skates rather than ice skates.
There are a number of different disciplines that artistic roller skaters can take part in, including figures, dance (either solo or in couples), freestyle and precision or team synchronised skating.
Just like ice skating it’s good for improving suppleness in your joints and strength in your legs as well as being great for concentration and balance. Unlike ice skating, there is less chance of getting cold and a bit damp when you fall over.
To find out more visit the Federation of Artistic Roller Skating.
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