Great environment to nourish fitness

By James Fuller

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It's January so it must be exercise time.

Traditionally gym memberships soar at the start of the year but exercise experts say you don't have to hit the treadmill, or your wallet, to get fit.

David Mays, Coachforce officer Sport Bay of Plenty and Touch New Zealand, says Bay residents live in the perfect region to get their exercise outdoors and free.

"There are so many activities you can do in this area. It's the perfect environment and climate," Mr Mays said.

"Walking in the ocean with the water just above your knees makes for great resistance training.

"Go for a walk around the Mount, or up the Mount, go swimming in Pilot Bay, or jogging in the sand dunes.

"Thirty minutes of activity daily, where you get your heart rate up to 65 per cent of its maximum, is ideal. Your maximum can be worked out by starting with a figure of 220 beats per minute and deducting your age from that."

Mr Mays said even normal daily activities, undertaken at an increased rate, were beneficial.

"Digging the garden, cutting bushes, taking the dog for a walk, climbing stairs or steps, going for a bike ride; all of these activities done at a pace to get your heart rate up will help you get fitter," Mr Mays said.

For the more advanced, he suggested hill sprints, rolling/flipping tractor tyres, and rope and tyre drag sprints.

Tauranga resident Nicola Reilly has been a mobile personal trainer for 13 years and said people should not over-complicate exercise.

"The key to any fitness goal is to just start. When the weather is great and the thought of a gym scares you, there are some great things you can do outside or even in the space of your living room that can get you in shape," Miss Reilly says.

"There are three things you should include in your week if you want to get fit and strong: strength training; high-intensity interval training [HIIT] and low-intensity movement."

Strength training was great for injury prevention, said the founder of the online gym www.forever fit.tv.

"Everyone needs strength. Your body is designed to push, pull, bend, twist, lunge, squat and walk/run/sprint. So in order to stay active, healthy and strong and prevent injury you need to ensure that any exercise plan you do includes these movements," she said.

HIIT pushed people's limits.

"It gets your heart rate up by using a variety of functional dynamic movements to turn your body into [a] metabolic furnace and burn body fat.

"Not only that, HIITs are usually short in duration.

"You can get the workouts done and dusted in as short as eight minutes and they can be done anywhere," Miss Reilly said.

Miss Reilly said combining strength and HIITs sessions was a smart use of time: "You end up getting results faster, shorter workouts and fewer workouts per week."

Low-intensity workouts were a way of having fun whilst taking mild exercise.

"This is exercise which you can do for a good hour or two and be able to hold a conversation while you do it. You want to aim to have at least three hours per week.

"This could be a half-an-hour walk six times per week, or two 90 minute paddle board sessions per week," Miss Reilly said.

"Have fun, be adventurous, get outdoors and be active. We spend our days at desks so making the effort to add this sort of movement into your week really does pay dividends for your weight loss goals, without burning you out in the process."

Examples of low-intensity exercise included: tennis, paddle-boarding, beach volleyball, yoga, swimming, cycling, walking up or around the Mount, orienteering at The Lakes, horse riding, surfing, golf, gardening, throwing a Frisbee around and cricket.

"One thing you need to understand though is you cannot out-exercise a bad diet," she said.

"So eat clean, healthy nutritious food that fuels you and gives your body what it needs. Get plenty of vegetables, fruits, good quality protein, nuts, seeds and good-quality fats."

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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