At this time of year, there is a lot of talk about health and fitness resolutions. Most of these won’t last very long as normal life patterns take over. Instead of thinking short term, try planning a whole year of activities that suit the season. It's a great way to keep up your exercise levels - just as one thing gets boring, you're onto the next.â€‹
Another benefit of the ‘year planner’ is that you can ensure you're a little out of phase with everyone else. This means staying ahead of crazes, getting better deals and not having to battle the crowds.
Here are some suggestions for each month – what would you add?
January marks the end of the festive season. The return to work and school leaves many of us feeling a bit flat – and possibly a bit fat too. Many people take up the ‘new year, new you’ challenge which means it is a busy time for gyms and leisure centres. Sadly, all too many of those who start their gym memberships in January will not continue attending into February! Luckily you know better than to spend a fortune on membership you won't use, but pick a gym pass that covers a class, workout or swim that you enjoy and you just might stick with it.
February doesn’t seem to offer much except the annual fest of pink that is Valentine ’s Day. So keep thinking ahead, especially if you have signed up for fun run events or even half or full marathons. Your training schedule needs to start now for many summer events, so work out the plan and get started. Try something new if you need some motivation - kickboxing is a great way to get fit and tone almost every muscle in your body.
The clocks go forward at the end of March, and suddenly we seem to have more hours in the day. Getting home with some daylight left after work really lifts the spirits. Make the most of this by enjoying some evening walking, and whenever the weather allows get outside at the weekends.
As the April weather warms and the evenings stay lighter later, it is definitely time to make the most of being outdoors. Think about dinghy sailing or windsurfing. On dry land it is a good time to polish up your bicycle and get out on the paths and quiet roads again.
For May, how about taking up tennis? The UK has an annual short-lived love affair with the sport when the Wimbledon tennis tournament is held, so get ahead of the game by booking your court or lessons now. The half-term break at the end of the month usually produces a good choice of family activities at gardens and historic houses.
June should give warm, light evenings – the summer solstice is on the 21st of the month. This makes it a wonderful time for an active holiday as long as you are not tied to school holiday times. For those in the UK it is good for warm after-work and after-school outings.
July is when those tennis courts get busy in the post-Wimbledon glow. If Andy Murray delivers again, expect even more competition. So branch out and look for more ways to enjoy the great outdoors. Running, hill walking and even outdoor gyms are all at their best in summer.
August is the main time for school holidays – dare we hope that we might get beach weather even in the UK? (We did in 2013!). Pack the sunscreen, the picnic and the drinks and head to the seaside.
If you are lucky enough to be heading abroad, holidays are still a great time to be active. Children will happily spend hours in the pool or the sea, so follow their example. Enjoy the cooler parts of the day when walking or cycling are pleasant, and adopt the Mediterranean habit of a siesta to relax and de-stress.
All being well, the September weather will still be good and there will be plenty of opportunities for outdoor exercise. If you are thinking ahead for your winter fitness options, September is another great time to head to a gym. Classes and pools will be uncrowded so make the most of the space.
If you are lucky enough to be planning a skiing holiday, it is never too early to start getting fit for it. Along with working on your cardio-vascular fitness by keeping moving whenever you can, look out for ‘fit to ski’ classes which usually start in October.
November brings the dark evenings again. Cheer yourself up with a visit to one of the temporary ice-skating rinks that spring up around the UK. If you prefer shoes rather than skates, why not join a dance workout such as Zumba or salsa? The music is guaranteed to cheer up the winter blues.
December seems to be all about Christmas, and that means that by the time the big day arrives it can feel rather an anti-climax. So fend off the stress with yoga, Pilates or other calming workouts.
Most of us will have a tidy and un-creased calendar or diary in the house now. Try cheering it up with some ideas for month-by-month activities. By the end of the year you should have found something that you like!
What about some of the extreme events like Tough Mudder? You can sign up now and give yourself a target, like Pete says. I'm doing one in August and thinking about the training already.
Peter W - planning for an event is the best thing to do, it makes you really focus. I'm planning on doing the OMM in October, it's scaring me into running more!
It's good to get a reminder of the different ways we can keep active so we don't get bored. I find it hard to imagine it being dry and sunny enough to get outside and do anything at the moment though!
Not sure i could plan for a full year but i do find that signing up to a couple of events over the coming months gets me motivated, mostly driven by the fear of making a fool out of myself. 5k open water swim in June signed up for already!
I find it really hard to get into it unless the sun's shining so I'll be hibernating in my gym until summer comes around!
If you don't put it in the diary, it won't happen... Good idea to have an overview of the whole year as well.
Love the idea of a fitness year planner! Being organised makes all the difference to achieving your goals. Thanks, payasugym!