It's easy to think that spring and summer are the times to be pushing yourself to the extreme with high-intensity sports such as cycling, running, tennis and other outdoor exercises. However, lower impact activities, such as yoga and pilates, can also greatly benefit the mind and body, as well as help to strengthen and prevent injury.
These ‘slow’ sports can be a sustainable way to improve long-term fitness and weight loss, as our bodies benefit, while our minds may be less likely to associate the exercise with pain. Here are some low-to-moderate physical activities that you could consider building into your exercise routine:
One of the gentler forms of exercise, tai chi has its roots in Chinese culture and has long been hailed as a series of meditative movements perfect for those seeking low-level intensity sports. It is believed to improve flexibility, strength, awareness and even self-defence skills, as its origins are in martial arts. Some fitness studios incorporate elements of tai chi, pilates and yoga into one ‘body balance’ style session, designed to stimulate as well as relax.
This dance-inspired workout is less about pirouettes and leaps, as it is about developing strength and flexibility. Starting with planks and other body resistance work, a typical barre session will have you doing isometric movements – it’s more about going one inch up or down, then holding a position. Barre classes tend to work the whole body, particularly the core, without putting enormous pressure on joints.
Very low impact for your joints, and less demanding for your lungs than swimming laps, water aerobics is another interesting option for moderate exercise. The water builds a natural resistance against your body, meaning you burn a high number of calories for your underwater movements and build your strength.
Sounds too obvious, doesn’t it!? We often need to walk to get from A to B – from the water cooler to our desks, from the house to the car… Walking is a fantastic exercise for, not to mention allowing you to relax in a state of contemplation. Unlike all other exercise forms, there are no instructions for walking – so set your own brisk pace, take the dog or some light dumbbells with you, and enjoy the scenery wherever you walk.
For all these sports and more, pre-exercise screening can help determine which exercise intensity is right for you, and therefore the kind of sports programme that will be most beneficial for your body and exercise goals. It is advisable to see your physician for such a medical check-up, particularly if you have a medical condition, are overweight, over 40 years of age or haven’t exercised regularly in some time.