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Play fit, stay fit

Let's be honest. No one likes training. It's hard. It hurts. It makes you sweaty.

We do it - if we do it at all - because we feel we have to. If we don't we'll get fat. We'll develop diabetes, clogged arteries, high blood pressure, die before our time or live in breathless pain. And even if we do fear all those things, it's not enough for some of us – most of us even – to get off the sofa and do something active. A heart attack doesn't hurt now. Going for a run will.

So don't train. Don't force yourself through a 30-minute Insanity workout just because you feel you have to. Don't drag yourself through a bootcamp if all you can think about is going home and enjoying a lie-in for once.

Instead, go and play.

Think of something you really enjoy doing. A long walk in the woods. A short run through the woods. Bouncing on a space hopper. Playing tennis. Skipping. Jumping on the kids' trampoline. Clambering on a climbing frame. Now go and do it.

Think of something you've always wanted to try doing but you've never done it because, well, you're too old aren't you? Too fat? Too unfit? Because you'd look ridiculous wearing a mask, carrying a big stick and playing with balls? (I was thinking of a hockey goalkeeper; what were you thinking of?!) Well, yes, some or all of that might be true. But you're not going to get any thinner or fitter thinking about it. And as the old saying goes, we don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing.

If you go and do something you enjoy, you will do it again. Even if it's hard work, it won't feel like it. It'll feel like fun. And you'll want to do it more often. And you'll want to do it better.

And then you might even start to think about 'training' so you can do it better and more often. Training so that your joints hurt less, you're less out of breath, so that you can go longer, harder, faster… And that training won't feel so much like hard work. You'll accept it because it's part of the price you'll be willing to pay to play the fun things you want to do.

Or maybe you won't. Maybe you'll decide that you're happy with just playing. Well, that's fine too. You'll still be fitter, stronger, healthier and – most importantly – happier than you were when you sat on the sofa just thinking about doing it.

The picture here is of my daughter. She's playing in a pub beer garden. Those Olympic rings are currently all the rage in fashionable gyms or Crossfit 'boxes' (don't ask... Crossfitters don't do anything like normal people!)

She's not hanging upside down because she's training. She's hanging upside down because it's fun. She spent ages working out how to tilt her body the wrong way round and hold it there. She got hot, breathless, her hands hurt, shoulders hurt… but when she managed it, it was worth it. The big grin is proof of that.

Unintentionally, by trying again and again, she trained herself . She developed strength and stability in her arms, shoulders, back, chest, core and more. Now, everytime we're in that particular pub garden, or anywhere else with rings, she's away and swinging upside down like an Australian monkey. Because if it's fun to do once, it's fun to do again but better.

So go and find something fun to do today. Find an exercise class where the instructor or other members tell jokes and make you laugh. Go and jump on the trampoline. Find a group of friends to walk along the river with. Or head off for some quiet alone time, running, walking, bouncing on your space hopper – it doesn't matter, whatever makes you happy, that's the point!

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