The country is on a comedown from the Olympics. But this needn’t be the end – now’s the time to start a sporting legacy of your own.
The London Games has created an Olympic sized buzz, and if you are one of the many who’s been left inspired by our athletes, why not use the opportunity to take up a new sport?
Banish thoughts of slogging it out on the treadmill – sport doesn’t have to be a chore and can even be sociable and a great way to meet new friends. Exercise helps eliminate stress and can increase your confidence. And, of course, if you are fit and healthy, your health insurance premiums will also be in better shape.
Just make sure you talk to your GP first if you have a history of medical problems.
Many people complain that they don’t have enough time to exercise, but if you incorporate exercise into your daily routine you won’t have that problem. In many towns or cities, where traffic is slow-moving during peak hours, cycling is a faster mode of transport than car or bus, so you should actually add time to your day. Furthermore, you’ll save money on transport costs.
Many companies run cycle
to work schemes to make the cost of buying a bike more affordable. But you don’t have to splash out on the flashiest model when starting out and can pick up a decent bike for around £100.
It’s of utmost importance to take safety precautions on the roads. Always wear a helmet and use lights after dark. Plan your route to work carefully and start off on quiet roads until you feel more confident. Make sure you learn the Highway Code and how traffic works. Direct Gov provides a wealth
of information for cyclist beginners.
But cycling, of course, doesn’t have to be about getting from A to B. If you fancy yourself as the next Victoria Pendleton or Bradley Wiggins, you should take up cycling in your spare time. Start off with Sky Ride Local; free cycling rides that take place all over the UK and for all levels and abilities. Or British Cycling provides information on local clubs, national races and maps to help you plan routes for solo riding or cycling with friends.
Swimming is a low-impact sport that can often suit those who have knee or joint problems and aren’t suited to running and other high-impact sports. Local swimming pools operate different sessions to cater to different users, such as women only and child-free.
It’s never too late to learn how to swim, and there’s no need for embarrassment – local leisure centres provide classes for adults, so you can learn as part of a group.
If you want to take your swimming to the next level, you should join a swimming club. Coaches will help you improve your technique and through this you can also enter competitions.
Swimming.org is an excellent resource for swimmers of all levels, providing information on where to start and local clubs.
The great thing about running is that it’s one of the most accessible forms of exercise – all you really need is a pair of trainers. Running is also great for your mental health: start the day with a clear head after a quick jog or throw on your trainers after a stressful day in the office.
If you’re not used to running, start off by walking and gradually build up your fitness level. Use your local park or nearby scenic areas and adapt routes depending on how hard you want to work and how much time you have.
If you want to take running to the next level, you can join a local running club, or enter races. Runner’s World features a list of half- and full
marathons, and smaller runs around the UK. Run England highlights a list of running clubs in England and United Kingdom Athletics features a list of clubs all over Britain.
The best part of the Olympics is that it provides a spotlight on the sheer number of sports and activities that you can take up. There really is a sport for everyone. Just think about where some of your strengths and preferences already lie.
For instance, if you’re interested in learning some aspects of self-defence, taekwondo or judo are a good place to start. Or if you enjoy the outdoors, horse-riding could be a natural progression. Or if you’re not a fan of horses, how about canoeing? If you’re interested in numerous sports, why not combine swimming, cycling and running in triathlons.
Don’t worry if you haven’t tried a sport before, everyone starts as a beginner and if you don’t like it, you can always try something else. Part of the fun of starting a new activity is learning new skills and noticing improvements as you get better. There really is no excuse not to create your own Olympic legacy.
- Staying fit will ward off health problems
- If you’re fit and healthy you pay less for health insurance
- Health insurance usually offers discounts on gyms or local exercise classes
The Olympics has demonstrated the huge number of sports and activities out there – there’s a sport for everyone
For taking up a new sport
If you’re short of cash
Take up running or walking, which cost absolutely nothing.
If you’d prefer to be sociable
Take up a team sport and meet new friends.
Cycling can save you money:
If you cycle to work, your transport costs are cut to zilch
Try something new
You could be a natural and not even know it.