We all know that regular exercise is great for physical and mental health, but if you’re not naturally sporty, trying to get fit can be a daunting experience. Plus, during the colder, darker months it can be more difficult to motivate yourself to exercise, whether it’s going for a run or attending a class.

However, sticking to your goals is much easier when you’re not doing it alone and the UK is home to many welcoming community sports clubs.

So, whether you’re looking for encouragement and motivation over the next few months or hoping to meet people and make new friends while keeping fit, here are eight sports and fitness communities you can join in autumn and winter.

1. Parkrun


If you like running – or if you don’t but would like to! – why not register for your local parkrun? Parkruns are free community 5k runs that take place all over the world. They’re held in local parks and open spaces every Saturday morning, and with 768 locations across the UK and Ireland, you’re sure to find an event near you! You can have a look at the event location map here.

If you’re not a confident runner, that’s no problem. Parkrun is designed to be a positive and inclusive event; there is no time limit, nobody finishes last, and absolutely everyone is welcome. You can go at your own pace, whether that means walking, running or jogging. If you’d like to check out an event before giving it a go, you can watch or even volunteer.

Parkruns are totally free, but you do need to register – however, this only needs to be done once, regardless of whether you’re planning to walk, run, volunteer or spectate! Just fill out the registration form before joining the event.

Parkruns are social events, with many attendees meeting for coffee after each run, so if you’re looking to make new friends and become part of your local community, it’s a great place to start.

2. Table tennis

Table tennis

Tennis is one of the most popular summer sports, but due to the cold weather, it’s not as widely played in autumn and winter. As such, tennis clubs and communities become much quieter – though table tennis is a different story altogether. Not only is table tennis an enjoyable, welcoming, and accessible sport, but it’s played indoors – so you don’t have to worry about getting chilly!

Table tennis is a truly accessible sport that’s suitable for all. It’s good for health while being easy on the body, and it can improve hand-eye coordination and boost mental agility too. Because it uses different parts of the brain at the same time, table tennis can also improve cognitive awareness and function. And it’s a social sport, so you can even have a good chat as you play!

Whether you just want to play for fun, and to meet other people, or are hoping to get involved in table tennis competitions, there are many places to play all over the UK. To find your local club, head over to Table Tennis EnglandTable Tennis WalesTable Tennis Scotland or Table Tennis Northern Ireland and head to the Table Finder page.

3. Netball


If you’re female there’s a good chance you played netball when you were at school – and for many of us, our school days were the last time we set foot on the court! But netball is currently the fastest-growing female team sport in the country, with over 150,000 women playing every week. It’s a great workout, and has a really welcoming community and a lively social side.

If you haven’t played netball since school (or you’ve never played at all) check out Back to Netball, which runs a series of fun, welcoming sessions that introduce you to the basics of the sport – and finish off with a friendly match at the end! Just enter your postcode in the session finder to find your nearest club.

If you’d like to be part of a social league, head over to Go Mammoth, where you can join local teams across England, Scotland, and Wales.

There are leagues for all abilities; if you’re a rookie, you can join the beginner league, where you’ll learn the rules of the game, boost your fitness, and develop your skills. The recreational league is for women who are new to the sport and want to play matches and have fun; and the intermediate league is for women who have a solid grasp of the game and want to step it up. If you’re serious about playing netball, you can even join the competitive level.

Ultimately though, Go Mammoth is a welcoming and relaxed sports community where the focus is on fun rather than competition – and most training sessions tend to end with a coffee in a cafe or drinks at the pub!

If you want to keep things low impact, there are also walking versions of this popular sport. Check out our introduction to walking netball for more information or find your nearest club on the Walking Sports website.

4. Walking


If you enjoy walking, then joining a walking club is probably one of the best things you can do for your health and wellbeing this autumn and winter.

Becoming part of a walking community will introduce you to new paths and trails close to you and give you more of an incentive to get outside (even when it’s cold). Plus, you can part in the social aspects that walking clubs organise and you’ll probably get discounts at local walking shops!

There are many walking clubs and communities to choose from. The largest is Ramblers, a charitable organisation that runs group walks across England, Scotland, and Wales. There are different walks to choose from, from dog-friendly walks to short and easy walks – and wellbeing walks are very popular too. Wellbeing walks are for everyone: walks are over easy terrain, and routes are open to all so mobility issues aren’t a problem.

If you don’t fancy Ramblers, head over to Time Outdoors to see what walking groups are located nearby. From walking clubs aimed at single people over 40 to clubs based around public transport, you’re sure to find a community that speaks to you!

Alternatively, head over to Countryfile for a list of walking clubs you can join in England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

5. Football


Football may not be our national game (that’s cricket!), but it’s arguably our most beloved. Plus, the recent Euros win by the Lionesses has sparked even more women to get involved.

If you’re keen to play the beautiful game, the good news is that there are clubs, leagues, and communities all across the country – and most run throughout the winter months too!

If you’re in England, you’re spoiled for choice. There are 1,100 leagues and 18,500 clubs across the country, so whether you’re interested in playing, refereeing, spectating, or volunteering, you’re sure to find a club near you.

Head over to England Football to enter your postcode and see your options. There are men’s and women’s football clubs for all abilities, as well as walking football, which has no running, jogging, or heading, and reduced contact tackling (you can find out more about walking football in our introductory guide). There are also many different types of disability football in England, from partially sighted football to deaf football and amputee football.

If you’re in Scotland, you’ll also have plenty of choices, from walking football to futsal, which is played indoors with smaller teams. Check out the Scottish FA to find your nearest clubs and communities. Or you find out more about Scottish para-football here.

Walking football is big in Wales too, and there are many walking football games and leagues you can join that are predominantly aimed at those over 50. Simply, head over to Faw Trust to find footballing opportunities near you.

If you’re based in Northern Ireland, check out Back in the Game, which is an initiative that aims to help men and women over 45+ and 55+ to re-engage with football in their local communities. After each session, attendees meet for tea or coffee to chat and make friends – and, if they’re interested, find out about coach education, volunteering opportunities, social media training, and mental health awareness workshops.

6. Snow sports

Snow sports

Snow sports like skiing and snowboarding are arguably the most famous and popular of the winter sports – and contrary to opinion, you don’t need to have a lot of money or jet off to the French Alps each year to become part of the snow sports community. With hundreds of slopes all around the country, getting involved with skiing and snowboarding has never been so easy.

Both sports are brilliant for physical and mental health, and are far more accessible than you might think. No matter your age or ability, it’s never too late to start. Whether you’ve never hit the slopes before or are already a keen skier who’d like to improve, you won’t be too far from a snow sports club. There are also many clubs in the country where you can have a go at adaptive skiing and snowboarding.

To find your local snow sports centre, head over to Snowsports in EnglandWales or Scotland. While Snowsports doesn’t operate in Northern Ireland, the Ski Club of Northern Ireland has a useful Facebook page. If you’re looking for inclusive skiing, you should check out Disability Snowsport.

7. Boxing


If you’ve never tried your hand at combat sport, why not think about giving boxing a go? Boxing isn’t only a great way to improve cardiovascular health, boost strength, lower blood pressure, and help with weight loss, it’s also an effective way to release stress in a healthy way. And it’s fun too!

Many people feel intimidated by boxing, but there’s no need to be. Forget whatever big matches you might have seen on TV because there’s no place for anger or aggression in the ring – only passion and focus. Boxing was traditionally a male-dominated sport that required a very high level of fitness and coordination, though in recent years it’s become far more inclusive.

Whether you’ve always dreamed of stepping in the ring and would like to work towards your first amateur match or you’d just like to learn the basics in a safe and welcoming environment, there are classes and communities all over the UK. Plus, in England, there are many accessible boxing sessions for people with disabilities or health conditions, and plenty of women-only classes too.

If you’d like to give boxing a go, the best way is to head to your local club and have a chat with a member of staff. To find your nearest club, you can check out club finders in EnglandWalesScotland and Northern Ireland.

8. Ice skating

ice skating

Ice skating is one of the most popular winter sports, and it forms the basis of many events at the Winter Olympics, like figure skating and speed skating. It’s a graceful sport that’s a joy to watch, but doing it yourself is even more fun.

Whether you just want to give it a try or you’ve always dreamed of zooming elegantly around the rink, there are plenty of ice skating classes and communities you can join across the UK.

Plus, ice skating offers many powerful health and fitness benefits. It’s an excellent way to build your leg muscles, improve joint flexibility, and boost your balance. It’s also a gentle way to give your heart and lungs a workout, so it’s ideal if you’re looking to try a low-intensity workout. Plus, it can even improve mental fitness, memory, and spatial awareness.

If you’re an ice skating beginner you can check out Skate UK, which is a 10-stage skate programme for all ages that will teach you the basics and get you confident on the rink. You can find your nearest ice skating club here.

Final thoughts…

Whether you’re looking for motivation to get out of the house when it’s miserable outside, or you’re hoping to meet new people and find some like-minded friends, becoming part of a local sports or fitness community has multiple benefits.

Getting regular exercise is, of course, incredibly good for physical and mental health. But becoming part of a sports or fitness community can also give you accountability, help you stick to your plans, and make the experience feel all the more purposeful and enriching.