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7 ways to exercise al fresco this summer

National Outdoor Fitness Day.

It’s official. We are a nation of lazy gits. According to the British Heart Foundation, we are less likely to participate in physical activity than most EU countries, with 44% of British adults doing no moderate physical activity at all compared with just 14% in the Netherlands and 23% in Denmark and Finland. Apparently, we’re just too busy go to the gym but we know the real reason is we just can’t be arsed. We’re much too busy watching the cookery programmes on TV then ordering a takeaway.

There’s nothing better than eating and drinking al fresco when the weather’s nice. And when the weather’s nice there’s no better place to exercise than outdoors. So why not give it a go? Not only will you burn those calories and release those endorphins, but you’ll also get a healthy dose of vitamin D. There’s really no excuse not to. But just in case you do need an excuse, May 30th is National Outdoor Fitness Day.

1. Park gyms

Park Gym

There are outdoor gyms in lots of parks across Greater Manchester. Some councils have invested more money on outdoor gyms than others, with Salford particularly well endowed. Some outdoor gyms have parallel bars, hurdles, leapfrog, step-ups, pull-up bars and benches whilst others have more recognisable equipment like cross-trainers, treadmills, bikes, and lat pull-down machines. If there isn’t one near you, just think of everything outside your home as a huge outdoor gym. The National Trust 31-Day Plan has lots of useful tips for exercising outdoors

2. British Military Fitness

BMF Class

If you want to exercise outdoors but prefer the discipline of a gym class, British Military Fitness run regular fitness sessions in Heaton Park. All sessions are led by military-trained instructors and everyone is welcome, from exercise rookies to fitness veterans. Membership starts at £27 a month but the session on National Outdoor Fitness Day (May 30th) is free

3. PK Blast

Pkbcoffee Rooftop Training 2

If you’re a city centre dweller or worker, PK Blast, brought to you by those lovely people at Pot Kettle Black, hold early morning high intensity fitness classes on the roof of the Barton Arcade, Deansgate. £12 including coffee & breakfast. The 3 Week Fat Loss Course has everything you need to help you achieve that summer beach body. @PKBCoffee

4. Cycling

Great Manchester Cycle 2013 1

We love cycling. It’s free, it’s good for you and it’s good for the environment. It’s more popular than ever and now that the weather’s a bit warmer there are even more cyclists on the roads. So why not get the bike out of the shed and cycle to work. If you need a bit of help getting it roadworthy, pop in to Popup Bikes @PopupBikes between May 25 and June 5for free bike maintenance and advice. It’s part of The Big Bike Revival, a national campaign to encourage people to cycle more (23rd May – 7th June 2015).

If you don’t feel confident enough to cycle in heavy traffic or don’t want to turn up for work with helmet hair, why not get your exercise at weekends or in the evening. If you prefer to be well away from motor vehicles, there are lots of off road cycle routes to enjoy such as the Manchester Cycleway and Transpennine Trail. Lots of maps and useful tips and information available at

If you enjoy cycling in large groups and want to raise some money for charity, why not take part in a sponsored ride. The Great Manchester Cycle on Sunday 28 June 2015 has 13/26/52 mile circuits of Manchester including stretches of the Mancunian Way. Entry is from £22. The 60 mile Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride is on Sunday 12 July. Entry is from £19

The Manchester Naked Bike Ride on June 12 is a short ride around Manchester to promote safer cycling. Meet at All Saints Park Oxford Road at 6pm if you’ve got the balls, or even if you haven’t. Please take extra care with your bicycle pump.

5. Running

YMCA Harriers Manchester

Manchester YMCA Harriers were established in 1882 and are still running over 130 years later. No wonder they’re so fit. They cater for all levels and can help you achieve your goals whether it’s making it round a 5km or running your first marathon. Membership is just £22 for the year. To join, you must be a member of the Y Club. @YClubManchester

6. Nordic Walking

Walk With Sticks

Nordic walking – walking with poles – is a bit like cross country skiing but without the snow. It’s popular in Germany and Scandinavia and a great way to improve fitness, lose weight and tone the whole body but is not suitable for people who don’t want to look like a twat.

7. Walk

Walking In Heaton Park

And finally, if you’re still not tempted by any of our suggestions, why not leave the car at home and just try walking more. You can burn up to 3,500 calories a week by walking 10,000 steps or five miles a day. It’s easy. Just put one foot in front of the other and repeat until you arrive at your destination. Go on, give it a go. You never know, you may even like it.

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