Get Healthier With Resources In Your Own Community

There are multitudes of community-based opportunities for improving your overall health, your fitness, and your diet. Open your eyes and

There are multitudes of community-based opportunities for improving your overall health, your fitness, and your diet. Open your eyes and look around to see where those opportunities are. Here are a few tips to get you started.

Local Fitness Ideas for Healthy Living
Open your eyes to the opportunities offered in your neighborhood!
Join a public pool or a local YMCA. For a minimal membership fee, most Ys or health clubs will allow you access to their pools so you can swim laps or take a water aerobics class. There’s no kinder, gentler place to start working out than in gravity-defying water. Swimming is easy on your joints, burns tons of calories, and makes you feel like a kid on summer vacation, all while giving you grown-up fitness and muscle tone. Since you weigh only 10 to 15 percent of your land weight in the water, swimming or water exercise classes are great for people who have nerve damage that affects their feet and who need to avoid too much weight-bearing activity.

Sign up for group strength-training classes at a local gym or through a continuing education program. Resistance (weight) training is just as important as aerobic exercise for diabetes control. In fact, it’s better than aerobic exercises at increasing insulin sensitivity, lowering your risk for thinning bones, and preventing loss of muscle that slows metabolism. Group classes can be more fun, and safer, then using strength machines.

Get personal with your own trainer. Another way to tap into strength training is to find a certified personal trainer who has a local studio, works in your health club, or will come to your home. Many trainers offer family, pair, or small-group training at more affordable prices. Having weekly sessions for a month or two is a great way to learn an individualized program that starts at your level and meets your personal strength needs. You can search for a personal trainer in your area by asking at your local gym or searching online at

Take a healthy cooking class. Look for courses through local community colleges or high school continuing education programs. Go for general healthy cooking or get creative and sign up for a vegetarian, Mediterranean, or Asian cooking class. It’s a fun, productive way to get out of the house.

Visit a local meal-assembly store to get “homemade” meals in a hurry. Companies that let you assemble your own meals from fresh or frozen ingredients already laid out for you are cropping up all over the country. Just sign up, show up, choose your menus, then rotate through different workstations to assemble your meals in containers they provide. Take them home in a cooler, decide what’s for dinner, and put the rest in the freezer. Thawing and heating instructions are provided. No grocery trips, no cleanup! Invite friends and make it a social outing. Try searching online under meal assembly and your city, look in your newspaper’s food section, or search through the vendors listed on to see if there’s one in your area.

Treat yourself to weekly trips to the farmers’ market. You’ll find the freshest fruits and vegetables there, and some interesting varieties you won’t find at the grocery store. Plus, the produce tends to be local and organic — good for the environment and your health. You may even meet other locals who are invested in community and good health. Look in your local paper, call your city hall, or visit to search for markets near you.

Sign up for a yoga class at a local center or YMCA. It’s another great way to lower stress. According to one recent study from California State University in San Bernardino, adults reported significant decreases in anxiety and increases in motivation and concentration after just eight weeks of practicing a relaxing form of yoga, compared to a control group. To start, choose a gentle form of yoga such as Hatha that includes relaxing breathing.

Head for a place of worship. Following their faith helps many people put stressors in place by reminding them of what really matters in life. Attending a local church or temple also provides a sanctuary from life’s stresses that you can enjoy with others who share your beliefs. The same community can help you out during tough times.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest