Dr Roger Henderson
Although we all know that exercise is good for us both physically and mentally, it can sometimes be hard to find an activity that we want to do long-term, or to stop becoming bored after a few weeks of doing the same thing. To prevent this, ‘mix up’ your activities by trying something you might not have thought of – you could join an exercise class or a team sports club to help keep you motivated as well as enjoying the social side of keeping fit. You might even find you love it! Here are 10 examples of exercises you might not have thought of and which can be very healthy for you

1. Zumba

Zumba is a Latin-dance based class that is fast-paced, fun, and accessible to all ages and fitness levels, which is why it has become increasingly popular among many people in the last few years. It aims to give you a cardiovascular workout as you are constantly moving. Most classes last around an hour or so, often incorporating lower body strengthening exercises too. It can also be a very social activity with lots of fun and laughing involved – try it!

2. Yoga

Yoga has been practised for thousands of years and focuses on moving the body into various poses and holding them for a period of time. Yoga classes can vary greatly, from the most gentle and relaxing form to very strenuous and sweaty classes. It is an excellent activity in helping lengthen and stretch tight muscles and more advanced classes also provide muscle strengthening exercises. Yoga can be hugely beneficial for the mind, helping with relaxation, calming anxiety and releasing stress and anger.


Walking is perhaps the simplest and easiest exercise that we can do – we just put one foot in front of the other! Hugely accessible, depending upon its intensity this simple exercise can provide a great cardiovascular workout and help with lower body conditioning. It is an easy, low impact way to help prevent weight gain, requires little in the way of equipment, and can help reduce stress and promote a sense of mental well-being. You can also use your walking time to listen to your favourite piece of music or listen to an audio book if you want to.

4. Running

Like walking, only faster! Running or jogging is an extremely popular way of keeping fit and it burns a lot of calories in a short time frame due to its intensity. By running regularly you can improve your circulation and so reduce your risk of a heart attack, high blood pressure and stroke and the average runner also burns 1,000 calories an hour during a training session. Running regularly helps to lift your mood, build self-esteem and increase self-confidence as you reach your fitness and/or weight loss goals. Running can also help relieve mild depression and help you cope with everyday minor irritations and stresses.

5. Kettlebells

Kettlebells were originally used as an army training tool but are now used by many people as part of their keep-fit programme. These are simply heavy weights with handles that you move around in prescribed patterns. Their physical benefit is that they offer cardiovascular and strength training in one exercise and are very good at training the core, glutes, and hamstrings along with developing muscular endurance.

6. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

HIIT can take many forms but it is essentially a session of exercise involving intervals of very intense exercise followed by intervals of rest. Many people use HIIT to help lose fat in a short period of time but it also helps to build anaerobic (muscle/strength) capacity, and improve the efficiency of the lungs.

7. Weight training

Weight training can take many forms, but it is essentially contracting the muscles against some form of resistance. It does not mean that you will end up with huge muscles – on the contrary, many people do weight training to tone and slim down. Using weights can help to build muscle tissue which gives the body a pleasing shape, helps to maintain mobility, and also assists the body in burning fat.

8. Go racing

There are now a huge variety of races you can take part in if you want to - 5K or 10K, running or biking, triathlon, duathlon or adventure – these all put you in a competition against others or yourself. One of the advantages of signing up for a race is that it gives you a goal to work towards and encourages you to train consistently, leading to improved benefits over time.

9. Swimming

This is one of the best all-round types of exercise as it not only improves your strength and heart and lung fitness, , but can be very useful if you suffer from joint problems or stiffness since exercising in water is a low-impact activity and so tends not to put excessive strain on the joints. (Aqua aerobics is another healthy alternative if you do not like swimming). When done regularly it can make you leaner, fitter, and stronger.

10. Bootcamp

Bootcamp classes are usually held outside and combine a variety of aerobic and anaerobic exercises along with body weight exercises and different drills led by an instructor. Designed to give a full-body workout, these classes teach you to push through your limits and give you a great sense of well-being and achievement at the end.

For the best physical and mental benefits from exercise, choose more than one type, exercise regularly and work on both your mind and body!