7 Simple Ways to Incorporate More Movement Into Your Day

7 Simple Ways to Incorporate More Movement Into Your Day

Mental Health Awareness Month: Moving More for our Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is “Movement: Moving more for our mental health.” As a Charity that has a core focus in the fitness and wellness sectors, we’re strong believers that getting in more movement is beneficial to all aspects of our health, including our mental wellbeing. 

Exercise – and all forms of movement – have so many benefits for both our physical and mental health. But for those days that you don’t have time for a dedicated gym session, there are plenty of little ways to incorporate healthy movement and avoid sitting for long periods of time.

These are seven little ways you can incorporate a bit more movement into your day (particularly on workdays when you feel like you have a million and one things on your to-do list!):

1. Start your morning with a 5-10 minute stretch. 

Not only does a morning stretch feel great, it also encourages good posture and blood flow, helps you start your day with less stress, and gives your mind and body an energy boost to take on the day. Need some inspo? We’ve got some short stretching videos on our YouTube channel.

2. Take a lunchtime walk. 

If you have an allocated lunch break as part of your workday, use it as a time to give your mind a rest so you can come back refreshed to complete your afternoon tasks. This is the perfect opportunity to get in a nice walk, especially now that it’s getting warmer and sunnier!

3. Try a standing desk. 

Standing desks are great for improving circulation, and standing while you work is also proven to improve your energy and reduce stress levels. If you don’t own a standing desk, you don’t necessarily need to invest in any fancy equipment. A kitchen counter or hightop table work just as well!

4. Stand up from your desk every 30 minutes. 

Sitting for long periods of time has a negative impact on blood circulation, insulin resistance, posture, and bone strength. You’re also likely to feel more stressed if you don’t take little breaks throughout your day. For every half hour you spend sitting, aim to stand up for at least five minutes. Do a quick stretch, take the dog out, or go into the kitchen to make yourself a cup of tea. If you’re in deep concentration mode and don’t want to break your focus, this is where a standing desk can be a great option!

5. If possible, walk or cycle to your destination. 

Whenever possible, skip the car or Tube and walk or cycle instead! You’ll get in some extra movement and some fresh air – something else that’s proven to support better mental health.

6. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. 

If you’re only heading up a few storeys, consider taking the stairs. This will get your heart pumping and encourage healthy joints. Plus, imagine the leg and glute muscles you’ll build up over time!

7. Try swapping your office chair for an exercise ball. 

Similar to using a standing desk, sitting on an exercise ball helps keep your muscles and core engaged. You’ll get in a bit more movement compared to a standard desk chair, and sitting on an exercise ball is also excellent for your posture.

Why not give one of these tips a try today? And if you’ve got a bit more time for a dedicated workout, look through the workout videos on our YouTube channel or book in for a group exercise class at YMCA Club! 

Fitness for Older Adults: How to stay active over 60

Fitness for Older Adults: How to stay active over 60

Physical fitness is essential for our health throughout every phase of our lives. The NHS recommends that older adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of intense exercise each week. They also encourage older people to do activities that increase strength, balance, and flexibility at least twice a week. 

If you don’t have a regular exercise routine at the moment, those numbers may sound daunting. But staying active in our golden years comes with so many benefits: 

  • Increase mobility
  • Reduce health problems that result from inactivity 
  • Maintain good heart health 
  • Improve bone density and prevent osteoporosis 
  • Strengthen muscles to prevent falls 
  • Have more energy to do fun things like travel or play with your grandchildren! 

Here are some of our favourite tips on how to stay active over 60 and find an exercise routine that you can stick with: 

Find a form of exercise you enjoy 

There are countless types of exercise, so there’s bound to be one you’ll love… it may just take some trial and error to find the one that sticks! Classic options include running, weightlifting, cycling, and tennis. If you’re after something a bit lower impact, there are plenty of low intensity ways to move that will still give you a great workout. Some of our favourites include walking, swimming, yoga, tai chi, water aerobics, and one of the newer exercise trends, pickleball.  

Eat healthy 

Eating the right balance of nutrients gives you the energy you’ll need to stay active and go about your daily activities. A good rule of thumb is to limit ultra-processed and sugary foods and incorporate as many different fruits and vegetables into your diet as possible. A couple of easy swaps you can make are opting for whole grains and brown rice versus the more processed equivalents and changing out red meat for leaner forms of protein like chicken, fish, legumes, or tofu. 

Turn exercise into a social occasion 

Working out doesn’t need to feel like a chore, and getting some friends involved will make the experience a lot more fun! If you’re interested in social workouts, we offer dozens of classes at the Club each week that are designed for members over the age of 60. You can even continue the fun after class by grabbing a coffee or a smoothie together from our onsite café! Additionally, we offer regular social opportunities for our older members, such as day trips and social teas. Read more about the programme here

Aim for a balance between different forms of exercise 

Health professionals recommend moving in a variety of different ways, such as strength training, cardio, and flexibility/stretching. This is especially important as we get older. Not only will you achieve a more well-rounded level of fitness – focusing on different areas makes older adults stronger and more mobile, reducing the risk of falls. A sample week of workouts could include a mix of swimming, yoga, and strength training with exercise bands, with long walks on the days in between. 

Find ways to stay active outside of sport 

Spending time in the gym is only one of the many ways to stay active over 60. There are plenty of other ways to get your body moving, and you may be doing some of them already! You can get in some great exercise by gardening, taking your dog on long walks, swapping the car for a bike on shorter journeys, and playing with your grandchildren. 

Create a tailored fitness routine with a Personal Trainer 

There are many PTs who specialise in fitness for older adults. Working with a PT, even if it’s just for one session, can help you learn certain moves to incorporate into your exercise routine based on your individual goals and fitness level. We have some excellent PTs at the Club who would love to help you get started on your fitness journey. 

Don’t be afraid to make modifications 

You may not be able to move in the same way as the 20-somethings in the gym, and that’s ok! Customise your workout routines to work for you and your body. If you push yourself too hard, you may end up injuring yourself, so it’s best to start slow and increase your speed or weights gradually. If you’re in an exercise class and finding it a bit too challenging, let your instructor know – they’ll be more than happy to help you find alternatives to exercises that don’t feel good! 

Chat with your GP about your ideal fitness routine 

If you’re brand-new to exercise or have a health condition that may make working out more difficult, it’s best to talk to your GP before starting a new routine. They can give you specific tips on ways to be more active that won’t do any harm along the way. 

Take a few of these tips on board, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier and stronger version of yourself! Ready to get started on your fitness journey? Click here to compare membership options at YMCA Club and click here to view our schedule of upcoming exercise classes. 

Mental Health and Fitness

Mental health and fitness – how connected are they really?

There are many reasons why maintaining good mental health and fitness is essential. This year, the National Fitness Day motto is “Your health is for life.” Fitness is about so much more than short-term gym gains or weight loss – it’s about making sustainable changes that you can take with you through every stage of life. 

We want to help as many people as possible take on this holistic, well-rounded approach to health, revolving around three key themes: mental health, nutrition and recovery, and physical activity. Strike the right balance between each of these areas, and you’ll set yourself up for a lifetime of healthy habits. 

First up, the relationship between mental health and fitness. 

The mind and body are connected a lot more than you’d think! Exercise increases endorphins – the “feel-good” hormone that lowers stress levels, reduces pain, and helps you feel happier all-around. And while the brain isn’t a muscle, it does need to be exercised regularly just like the rest of your body to stay healthy. 

That’s where the concept of “mental fitness” comes in. It’s all about keeping the mind active to help you think more clearly, gain more control over your emotions, have a better memory, and lower the symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

Here are some of our favourite ways to improve your mental health and fitness: 

When you’re feeling blah, getting changed and heading to the gym can feel like the hardest task in the world. Getting started is the hard part. Once you start moving and those endorphins start kicking in, you’ll be hooked. There are dozens of ways you can work on your mind-body connection in fitness depending on your interests, physical abilities, and motivation levels. If you’re feeling up for it, sweating it out in a HIIT or boxing class is an amazing way to release frustration or stress. If you’re craving something a bit calmer, yoga, swimming, and jogging are all excellent options. Even getting outside and taking a 20-minute walk in nature is likely to boost your mood. 

Whether you meditate for a half hour or only a few minutes, you’re bound to feel calmer afterward. Meditation can be a challenge at first. (How can you possibly empty your mind and sit still when there are a million different things on your to-do list?!) But just like physical exercise, the more often you do it, the easier it gets. Between apps and free YouTube videos, there are plenty of resources to get you started with meditation and mindfulness in fitness. 

3.Clean eating: 
Having a healthy combination of nutrients helps your brain function at its best. Try to strike the right balance between carbs, protein, and healthy fats and try to limit ultra-processed foods and alcohol, which can have detrimental effects on mental health when consumed too frequently. 

4.Water, water, water: 
Water makes up about three-quarters of the brain, and staying hydrated encourages better brain functioning. Aim for somewhere between three to four litres of water a day, and more on days when it’s hot out or you’re especially active

5.Reading and writing: 
Escaping into a good story can help you forget the stresses of daily life, even if it’s just for a few minutes. It also boosts creativity, which keeps the brain active. Writing has similar benefits, and it’s an excellent way for you to channel your emotions either into short stories, poetry, a blog, or simply a personal journal. 

6.Learning new skills: 
When you learn something new, fresh connections and neural pathways form within the brain. This encourages a stronger memory, and picking up new skills can help you find a sense of purpose, lessening feelings of depression. There are hundreds of new skills out there for you to try, such as language learning, pottery, creative writing, knitting, photography, computer coding, cooking and baking… the options are endless! 

Whether you chose to implement only one of these tips or all of them, you’ll be on your way to a happier and more mentally fit version of yourself. Once you feel stronger mentally, you’ll also find it becomes easier to tackle other aspects of your health journey. 

*Note: We know that mental health is complex, and sometimes it takes more than exercise or mindful behaviours to feel better. If you feel like you’re struggling with your mental health, please speak to your GP to figure out a treatment plan that is customised to you.

Striking the right balance between nutrition and fitness

Striking the right balance between nutrition and fitness

To celebrate National Fitness Day this year, we’re taking their motto “your health is for life” to heart.

Staying fit and healthy is about so much more than what you do in the gym – it extends to every aspect of your life. And the closer attention you pay to your wellness now, the better you’ll feel as you get older. 

There are three areas in particular that we’re focusing on: mental health, nutrition and recovery, and physical activity. They make up the perfect trifecta to get you on the right track for a lifetime of healthy habits.  

In this post, we’re chatting all things nutrition and recovery. 


A good diet is the foundation for a healthy life. It impacts just about every aspect of your being, such as your energy levels, sleep, and resistance to disease. 

When thinking about nutrition tips for athletes, it’s important to strike the right balance of carbs, protein, and fat. There’s a misconception that cutting out carbs or fat will help you lose weight – restrictive diets may lead to weight loss in the short-term, but they’re not sustainable. The best thing you can do for your health is to include the correct balance of the three macronutrients. (Note that the recommended ratio of carbs to protein to fat varies from person to person. A nutritionist can help you put together a customised plan that works best for you.) 

Carbohydrates are the body’s primary form of energy, and they should make up most of your diet. And this food group is much more than grains like bread and rice – fruits and vegetables are carbs too! When it comes to grains, try to go for the whole grain or brown varieties most often as they’re higher in fibre and will keep you full longer. And while the government recommends five servings of fruit and veg a day, that’s the bare minimum. We should really be aiming for 10 a day! 

Protein is essential for growing your muscles, and protein-rich foods are important for muscle recovery after a tough workout. But don’t overdo it – about 0.75g of protein per kilo of body weight is ideal. Unless you’re a professional bodybuilder, consuming more than that can actually have negative effects. Excellent sources of protein to include in your diet include beans, lentils, tofu, lean chicken and turkey, fish, and eggs. If you’re vegan, veggie, or flexi, many of the meat-free alternatives are also high in protein! 

Fats help your body absorb vitamins and nutrients, and they keep your hormones regulated. They’re important in a healthy diet, but not all fats are created equal. Try to limit saturated and trans fats – instead, opt for healthy forms of fat like nuts, seeds, avocados, salmon, and high-quality olive oil. Try to limit foods that are high in the bad fats, including processed and red meat, dairy, deep-fried foods, and sugary desserts and baked goods. 

Bonus: Water

It’s not one of the macronutrients, but we can’t talk about nutrition without bringing up water! Staying hydrated helps with digestion and muscle function, and it can also be your secret weapon when it comes to weight management and dieting. Most adults in the UK are chronically dehydrated, so even if you feel like you drink enough water, chances are your body craves more!  


Fuelling up before and after a workout is good for your muscles and can help your body recover faster. But try to avoid food within 30 minutes of your workout to prevent stomach cramps or indigestion. In addition to diet, there are several other things you can do to encourage recovery. 

Always stretch before and after a workout to prevent injuries and minimise muscle soreness.
Don’t neglect rest days! These are just as important as your active days, especially if you’re going hard in the gym. However, don’t be sedentary on rest days – still fit in time for light exercise like a walk, yoga, or stretching.
Foam rolling is excellent to prevent muscle soreness. 
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep. A good night’s sleep is important for just about every aspect of your health and is also necessary for your muscles to recover. 
Consider treating yourself to a special recovery service every now and again, such as a massage, cupping, or acupuncture. 

Keep in mind that diet and recovery are very personal and can vary from person to person. If you want help creating a custom nutrition or recovery plan, book a consultation with a trained professional. We have nutritionists and sports recovery experts available right at the Club. 

How to start working out and actually stick with it

How to start working out and actually stick with it

National Fitness Day was a couple days ago, but we’re keeping the celebrations going a bit longer. After all, their motto this year is “your health is for life.”

Fitness is a many faceted thing that’s about so much more than shedding pounds or growing muscles. We know how important it is to make sustainable changes to your health journey to make sure it’s something you can sustain throughout your life. 

So far, we’ve chatted about mental health, nutrition, and recovery and how they’re related to fitness. Today, we’re talking about the final piece in the puzzle for a lifetime of healthy habits: physical activity and how to start working out.

There are dozens of different ways you can get moving on a daily basis, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all. If you’re not much of a gym-goer at the moment, the idea of getting started with exercise can seem daunting. But the key on how to start working out (and actually stick with it) is to find a form of exercise that you enjoy and that you can turn into a habit. Easier said than done, but here are five tips to get you motivated: 

Be open to trying anything and everything.

You may fall in love with a form of exercise you wouldn’t have expected! YMCA Club has a huge variety of classes you can try, such as yoga, aerobics, and circuit training. If you’re a beginner, let the instructor know and they’ll help you modify exercises that may be too difficult. 

Take it slow. 

It can be tempting to go all-in from the start, but that may lead to burnout. If you’re brand new to exercise, start with something manageable like 2 or 3 workouts a week, and go for walks on other days. And the workouts don’t need to be long sessions – even a 20-minute HIIT workout can be enough to get your heart pumping! 

Find a “why” that’s more than just a good physique.

This is the key to starting a healthy exercise routine that you can sustain. You’re more likely to stick with exercise long-term if you’re doing it for a non-aesthetic or non-selfish reason. This can include a long list of things, such as managing diabetes, improving heart health, managing anxiety or depression, lowering blood pressure, or getting stronger to play with your grandchildren.  

Recruit a workout buddy.

If you’re going solo, it can be easy to make excuses to skip a workout, but when you start a fitness routine with a friend, you keep each other accountable. You’re less likely to cancel a workout last-minute if your friend is relying on you! You can even make the experience more fun and social by going for a coffee or nutritious smoothie after the workout. 

Block off time in your diary.

It’s important to make physical activity a priority because it is one. Schedule it in the same way you would a work meeting or doctor appointment. If you can make a habit of exercise, even better! Try working out at the same time a few days a week or attend a couple of the same classes each week. 

All that’s standing between you and your new fitness routine is that first workout! Need some inspiration to get started? Some of the most popular types of workout – and some of our favourites include swimming, cycling, yoga, boxing, weightlifting, dancing, HIIT, and pilates.

Top 5 Benefits of Baby and Toddler Swim Classes

Top 5 Benefits of Baby and Toddler Swim Classes

toddler swim class
It’s never too early to hop in the pool and get accustomed to being in water! Baby and toddler swim classes help youngsters learn essential skills that they’ll take with them as they grow and develop, and the early start is likely to make them stronger swimmers as they get older. 

How does a baby and toddler swim class work exactly? The instructor leads parent and baby pairs through a series of games and activities. In the beginning, you’ll support your baby as he or she learns movements like kicking and paddling, and eventually, they’ll be able to work toward floating and moving around in the water independently. 

Learning to swim from a young age comes with so many physical and developmental benefits. Learning to swim from a young age comes with so many physical and developmental benefits.

1. Strengthen muscles 

Even when you’re helping your baby stay afloat, the kicking and paddling movements do wonders for strengthening vital muscles in the arms, legs, and neck. This will help make your baby stronger overall, which will translate to activities outside the pool too. For young babies, this may also lead them to hit milestones like crawling and walking earlier than they would otherwise. 

2. Increase motor skills 

Your baby will feel new sensations when moving around in the water versus on dry land. Movements tend to be slower and more precise, so your baby will have more control and may be able to move in ways they can’t outside of the pool.  

3. Improve balance and coordination 

Swimming is known to help babies develop and strengthen the vestibular system – part of the inner ear that helps with spatial awareness, hand-eye coordination, and a feeling of equilibrium. This will set them up for success in their physical development and any activities they do outside the water as well. 

4. Gain confidence  

Swimming lessons help babies and toddlers get used to the feeling of being in water from a young age, leading them to become stronger and more confident swimmers as they get older. The excitement and praise that comes with learning new skills can also help toddlers gain a stronger self-esteem. 

5. Socialise 

Not only is this an amazing bonding experience for you and your baby – it’s also the perfect way for your little one to interact with peers who are their same age. Babies and toddlers learn from one another, and spending time together helps them gain fundamental social skills. 

These are only a handful of the amazing benefits you’re likely to notice from baby and toddler swim classes! Ready to jump in and get started? The Children’s Swim School at YMCA Club regularly runs parent and baby swim classes for children ranging from 6 months to 3 years old. Click here to read more and find out when our next series of baby and toddler swim classes will be starting!