Fit for Purpose - Retirement Planning | NatWest

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Fit for purpose

Tips and ideas for getting active in 2017

At this time of year, many of us are thinking about getting out and trying new things and being more active.

There are lots of things you can do that don’t involve pumping iron or going to the gym. And best of all, they don’t tie you into annual memberships and costly contracts.

You can try them out, or move onto something different whenever you fancy. 


Thanks to top TV shows like Strictly, dancing is more popular than ever. So if you’ve always hankered after learning to fox trot or tackling the tango, now’s your chance.


It’s a great way to meet new people, and because there are so many different dance classes on offer from Zumba to ballroom, and from samba to salsa, you’re sure to find something you’ll enjoy.


You can find your nearest class or school at


The average person burns around 400 calories just by being moderately active and walking 10,000 steps in a day.


There are various apps, many free, you can download to see how far you’ve walked and the calories you’ve burned. So why not head off somewhere you’ve never been before or don’t know too well and explore it on foot?


Walking also boosts your cardiovascular system, strengthens your legs and hips, and has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. On top of which, you never know what you’ll discover. 


Up the pace and you can up the benefits.


But if you haven’t been active for a while you might want to build up your fitness levels gradually. The NHS has a great podcast – Couch to 5K, which has been developed to help absolute beginners get into running over nine weeks.


If you’ve never considered yourself a runner, you might surprise yourself!


Another fun way to keep fit is to cycle.


Not only is it a great aerobic exercise that works your lower body and cardiovascular system, it’s a perfect way to venture a little further and see the sights.


So if you normally hop in the car or on a bus to get a carton of milk or for a day out, why not jump on your bike instead?


There are lots of cycling events all over the country you could enter, so set yourself a goal, hire a bike and get going.


And if you’re thinking of getting on your bike to work there’s the cycle to work scheme which gives you great discounts on bikes and equipment.


This exercises the whole body and is an excellent way to tone up and get trim.


Just a few lengths are enough to involve most muscle groups, and if you swim at a steady, continuous pace, you’ll get an aerobic workout too.


If you’ve never swum before, or feel your technique could do with a bit of improving, you could always have lessons as most pools offer them, it's never to late to start.

Badminton or tennis

If you have fond memories of badminton or tennis at school, why not take one of them up again?


As aerobic activities they work both your lower and upper body and help develop balance, co-ordination, stamina and reflexes.


You can find local tennis and badminton courts and clubs easily online. You could end up with a whole new hobby and some great new friends!

Tracking your fitness

One of the advantages of going to the gym is that the rowing machine or exercise bike you’re using comes with a tracker so you know how many calories you’ve burned and how many miles you’ve covered.


But with a personal exercise tracker you can now get all that information as you go about your normal day.


For a couple of pounds, you can get a simple pedometer which counts the steps you take. For £25 or so you could go for an activity band like the new Xiaomi Mi Band Pulse which not only tracks your steps and sleep but monitors your heart rate too. Or for around £100 you could go for an all-singing, all-dancing Fitbit or Garmin fitness tracker which offer all sorts of handy features.


These links are to non-NatWest websites. NatWest is not liable for the accuracy of the information provided on these websites.

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