Trying a new sport or activity can be a great way to get out of the house and challenge your mind and body. No matter what your fitness level or experience is, there are plenty of hobbies out there that are just as fun as they are beneficial for your health.

Although, with so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 10 ideas for different sports and activities to give you some inspiration…

1. Badminton

If you want to try a sport with a friend or family member, badminton might be for you. Not only is it a lot of fun, but it can also boost heart health, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, improve flexibility and muscle tone, and reduce the risk of diabetes.

To be a good badminton player, you need to be pretty quick on your feet, have a strong sense of strategy, and a smooth technique – but like any skill, much of these can be picked up along the way.

If you’re serious about learning, you might want to look into some one-on-one coaching from an instructor at your local gym or leisure centre. Or, perhaps, you and a friend could book some time at your local badminton court and enjoy getting to grips with the sport at your own pace. You can find nearby courts, coaches, and classes here on the Badminton England website.

You can usually hire a racquet and shuttlecock wherever you’re playing. Although, if you can’t or don’t want to, you can always think about investing in your own equipment.

It’s helpful to do a bit of research before you buy a racquet. Getting the right grip is essential: small hands need small grips, large hands need large grips. The right size racquet should feel comfortable in your hand. Your grip can affect your wrist action, and a poor grip could result in stiffer movements – meaning that you won’t be able to perfect your forehand and backhand shots.

The right shuttlecock makes a difference too – if it wobbles around during flight, then it’s probably poor quality. Amazon has a decent range of affordable badminton equipment available or, for more specialist advice, you can head to your nearest local sports shop.

To learn more about the correct technique and see if you might be interested in getting started, have a watch of the video below.

2. Rock climbing

If you’re looking for a full-body workout that’s as beneficial for your mind as it is for your body, then look no further than rock climbing.

Climbing strengthens your hands, arms, shoulders, neck, back, abs, glutes, thighs, and calves – plus, it improves flexibility, reduces stress, and tests your problem-solving abilities and endurance.

Figuring out where to go next when you’re hanging from a wall is a whole new type of challenge, and many climbers compare climbing to a very physical game of chess, where you’re always thinking about your next move.

Of course, as thrilling as it is, climbing is also safe, provided you know what you’re doing and have qualified supervision. Most people learn to climb at indoor climbing centres, where there are always expert instructors on hand to show you the ropes (quite literally).

Most centres provide all the accessories and equipment you need – although, you might need to buy yourself a decent pair of climbing shoes. It’s worth visiting your local sports or fitness shop to purchase these so that you can get some advice on how to choose the right shoe for you. Climbing shoes are different from normal trainers because they are adapted to help you grip onto rocks and stand on small footholds.

If you aren’t sure about taking up climbing as a hobby because heights aren’t your thing, then you could consider taking up bouldering. Bouldering is basically climbing on a smaller scale – walls are typically around 10-15 feet.

When bouldering, you don’t need safety gear like helmets, harnesses, and ropes – and instead, you climb above a crash mat. Although, this doesn’t mean injuries don’t happen, so be sure to follow your climbing centre’s safety rules.

You can find your nearest indoor climbing centre here – and to get more of an idea of what to expect from indoor climbing, have a watch of the video below.

3. Martial arts

Learning a martial art is something you might not have considered, but if you give it a go, you might be surprised. You don’t have to be ‘tough’ to practise martial arts – you just need to be patient, dedicated, and enthusiastic.

Aside from the physical benefits, like improved strength and agility, learning a martial art can also boost your confidence, improve focus and stillness, and teach important morals and values. Many martial arts have a strong focus on mental wellbeing and are deeply linked to eastern culture and history, and there’s lots of emphasis on mutual respect.

Although, because there are many different forms of martial arts, it can be tricky deciding which one to try, especially if you’re totally new to these sports.

If you want a gruelling, physical workout, kickboxing and mixed martial arts (MMA) will certainly be a challenge. Alternatively, karate and taekwondo focus just as much on self-discipline and self-control as fitness and strength, and jiu-jitsu can be a tough, close-contact combat sport, with a focus on self-defence. Judo is also one of the most accessible martial arts (Judo meaning ‘gentle way’ in Japanese) and can be taken up by people of all different physical abilities.

If you’re still unsure which martial art you want to try, then it’s worth having a watch of this YouTube video, which will talk you through how to choose the right martial art for you. Or, why not take a look at our article; 6 popular martial arts to learn later in life?

You can also find out more by contacting your local martial arts schools or enquiring at your local gym or leisure centre to see if they run any classes.

4. Walking football

Walking football is exactly what it sounds like – a walking version of the beautiful game. Created specifically to get people back into football if they’ve stopped playing due to age or injury, walking football has become increasingly popular with both men and women in recent years.

The rules of walking football are simple: there’s no running, no contact between players, and there are kick-ins instead of throw-ins. Because it provides minimum stress on the body, walking football is a great way to keep fit without worrying about getting injured, and everyone is able to play at their own pace.

Walking football teams are either five-a-side or six-a-side, and this is generally a very sociable game – though, that doesn’t mean it can’t get competitive!

If you want to find your nearest walking football club and give it a go, then check out the Walking Football website. Known for being a very inclusive sport, there’s a walking football session for everyone, however you want to play. Or, for more information, why not take a look at our beginner’s guide to the sport?

To get inspired, have a watch of this walking football match between England and Italy!

5. Yoga

Although it’s been practised in India for around 5,000 years, it’s only in the last few decades that yoga has really exploded in popularity in the west.

The benefits of yoga are extremely powerful. It’s especially good for increasing strength and flexibility, but it’s also considered one of the most beneficial activities for the brain. Yoga is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep, boost focus, and increase energy.

Plus, the other great thing about it is that absolutely anyone can do it. It’s gentle and low-impact, but can also be seriously challenging if you want it to be. You can find your nearest yoga classes here or ask at your local gym or leisure centre. But with the many different types of yoga out there, which one should you try?

Hatha and Iyengar yoga are popular with beginners, as they involve a gentler form of stretching, though you’ll still learn all the basic yoga poses. Restorative yoga is great if you’re recovering from illness, injury, or trauma, and adaptive yoga is popular with people who have limited mobility or are in wheelchairs.

If you’re already pretty flexible or want more of a challenge, you might want to try Bikram yoga or Vinyasa yoga. Bikram yoga – also called hot yoga – involves doing yoga in a room that’s heated to around 40 degrees, which is said to help remove toxins from your body. It’s certainly an interesting way to work up a sweat!

You can read more in our introductory guide to yoga or try having a go at the yoga workout for beginners in the video below from the comfort of your own home.

6. Kayaking

If you love getting out on the water, you might want to consider giving kayaking a go. It’s great exercise and works your upper body, legs, and core – but it’s also low-impact and suitable for all abilities.

Paddling gently across the water with the sun overhead and a gentle breeze on your face is also an especially lovely way to spend a summer’s day – and because it can help you feel present and connected to nature, kayaking also helps to improve mental health and alleviate stress and anxiety.

It’s up to you how vigorously you want to kayak, but if you’re hoping to improve your fitness as well as have a good time, working those oars will make a big difference.

If you’ve never kayaked before, you might want to take a lesson at your local kayaking centre – you can find your nearest one here. Alternatively, you can go solo by hiring some kayaking equipment and going out by yourself for some peace and solitude – just be sure to wear sunscreen and a lifejacket at all times!

You’re allowed to kayak independently on lakes, but if you want to paddle down rivers and canals, you’ll need a kayaking licence. If you’re a bit of a thrill-seeker, you might even want to think about trying white water kayaking!

You can check out some of the loveliest kayaking routes in the UK here to get inspired. Or, why not have a read of our list of 7 of the best kayaking destinations around the world?

7. Running

Running is one of the most accessible sports in the world – the only thing you really need to get going is a pair of running shoes.

Aside from its obvious health benefits, one of the great things about running is that you can do it any way you like – any pace, anywhere, any time, any length. You might not see yourself as a runner yet, but if you give it a try, you’ll probably be surprised at how quickly you improve. Plus, no matter how slowly you run, you’ll still be building endurance, burning fat, and improving your health.

If you haven’t done much running before, it’s best to start off gently. You could try the NHS Couch to 5K programme, which will help you run five kilometres after nine weeks of slowly building up your ability.

If running comes naturally to you, you may want to set yourself bigger targets – like a 10km run, a half-marathon, or even a full marathon. Just make sure you give yourself plenty of time to train and build your ability up gradually. Slow and steady really does win the race in this instance, and it’s important not to set yourself back through an early injury by trying to do too much too soon.

While you don’t need lots of accessories or gadgets to run, it’s important to make sure you’re wearing the right shoes.

You can read more about this in our beginner’s guide to running. You might also want to consider downloading apps like Nike Run Club or Strava, which use GPS to track your runs, allowing you to keep tabs on your progress and see how you improve.

8. Tennis

If racquet sports appeal to you but you’re not sure about badminton, then you might want to give tennis a try.

Tennis has serious health benefits. It increases your aerobic capacities, lowers resting heart rate and blood pressure, improves metabolism, increases bone density and improves muscle tone, strength, and flexibility. It’s also a racquet sport that can be played outside or inside – so you can keep playing all year round. 

You don’t need much fancy gear to play tennis – you just need a racquet and some balls, which you can find for a good price on Amazon. Or for more specialist advice, you can head to your nearest local sports shop. If you don’t want to invest in all the gear for your first few games, then it’s also worth enquiring as to whether wherever you’re playing hires out balls and racquets.

If you’ve never really played tennis before, then you might want to try it by yourself before you play against another person. All you need to do is find a wall and practise hitting the ball at it. It’s one of the best ways to learn how to control your body, as well as get a feel for the ball and how the racquet feels in your hand. It’s also a great way to learn the four different tennis strokes: serve, volley, forehand, and backhand.

If you want to play against a friend or a family member, you can find your nearest tennis court here – and if you want to get some one-on-one lessons, have a look at the LTA site, the governing body for tennis in Great Britain.

9. Dancing

Some people are lucky enough to be born with natural rhythm… while others are a little rustier on their feet. However, the great thing about dancing is that you don’t have to be good at it to reap the benefits and have a fun time.

Dancing improves your physical health and fitness, alleviates stress, and boosts confidence. It also keeps your mind sharp and improves balance and coordination. Going to a group dancing class could also be a great way to widen your social circle. Plus, whatever type of music you’re into, there’s a dance style out there for everyone.

You can choose from ballroom, latin, tapdance, salsa, ballet, hip hop, line dancing, tango, step dancing, breakdancing, belly dancing… Whatever your experience, ability, or mobility, there’s a dance to suit you.

If you want to be inspired, check out Para Dance Sport, where athletes with a physical disability affecting their lower limbs prove dance is something everyone can enjoy.

It’s worth remembering that you don’t have to go to classes to learn how to dance – you can work on your steps from the comfort of your own home. There are thousands of tutorials and videos available online. Why not check out our article, 11 dance classes for beginners, to get a few ideas?

Alternatively, to find dance classes near you, just enter your postcode on either the Dance Near You site or the One Dance UK site – or simply ask your local leisure centre or gym if they run any.

10. Cycling

Cycling is a low impact exercise that uses all the major muscle groups, so you’ll always be getting a great workout, no matter how far you ride.

Just like running, cycling can be adapted to your own preferences and ability. So if you want a challenge, you could give mountain biking a go, and push yourself by tearing up and down steep mountain roads. At the same time, if you want to take it slow, you can get a road bike and enjoy gentle cruises around town.

If you want a bit of a boost while you’re cycling, you can even get a power-assisted bike or an e-bike, which has a small electric motor to make it that bit easier.

It’s important to get the right bike and make sure it fits you. We’d recommend popping along to your local bike shop and asking staff for some assistance – they can help you choose the right helmet, lights, reflectors, and other cycling gear.

Bike shops are also great places to meet other cyclists and find out about local cycle routes and bike clubs. If you want to learn more about cycling, choosing the right bike, and how to stay safe on the roads, have a read of our beginner’s guide to cycling. Or to get inspired, why not check out our list of 9 beautiful cycle routes in the UK?

Final thoughts…

As beneficial as we know sport is for our minds and bodies, it’s fair to say that not all of us enjoy it. But the wonderful thing about sport is that there really is something out there for everyone – no matter your fitness, mobility, or strength level.

From gentle stretching that helps quieten the mind to lively dance and energetic badminton, we hope that this list has given you an idea for something that you might enjoy. And for more ideas, why not visit the fitness and exercise and hobbies and activities sections of our website?

Whatever sport you decide to try, remember to be kind to yourself and go at your own pace. No matter how you perform, trying out a new activity is always something to feel proud of.