“When you’ve done it you feel absolutely fantastic" - Stockport sports in 2024

By Faye Price

31st Jan 2024 | All Sports


Looking to try a new sport locally? Faye Price discusses how you can fulfil your New Years Resolution of keeping fit in Stockport this year without putting one foot on the treadmill (Images - river, bottom left: Alasdair Perry / Edgeley Park, top right: Stockport Council / centre right: Kidical Mass / rest: Unsplash)
Looking to try a new sport locally? Faye Price discusses how you can fulfil your New Years Resolution of keeping fit in Stockport this year without putting one foot on the treadmill (Images - river, bottom left: Alasdair Perry / Edgeley Park, top right: Stockport Council / centre right: Kidical Mass / rest: Unsplash)

It's no surprise that new year is a popular time to take up new sports.

The gym remains one of the most popular places to kickstart a new exercise habit; data from Puregym suggests that their spaces are 40% busier in January. After all, gyms are relatively accessible and have been proven to boost wellbeing - a UKActive survey suggested as many as four in five people said visits improved their mental health.

Still, there are lots of other sports on offer in Stockport, too.

If you're looking for inspiration on a new sporting habit, look no further...

Football

Football remains as popular as ever in Stockport, particularly off the back of a buoyant County season. With its focus on aerobic activity, the beautiful game helps to reduce the risk of developing chronic illnesses like heart disease, strokes, and Type Two diabetes.

Clubs of all different sizes and styles play across the borough - there is even a Decathlon team which has morphed into a club of its own.

Founder and chairman of the club Lee Humphries spoke at length about the benefits of the sport:

He said: "The amount of people who contact us about how football has benefitted them and their lifestyle is just unreal.

"When you are on the football pitch you don't think of anything else […] whatever is going on in your life, it doesn't make any difference."

He talked about the number of people who had made friends for life at the club, including a member who met his best man at his wedding at AFC.

He added: "You've got the opportunity here not just to play football but to meet new people."

Roller Skating

Between the Covid-19 pandemic and social media, skating has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. I

From skateparks to roller discos, to gliding around the block, there is no limit to what people can do with a pair of skates. Classed as low-impact cardio, skating promotes strength, balance, and core stability, and can burn as many calories as a group cycle.

For new skaters, roller discos are a great way to get started. On Friday, the Rollers Club will hosting their weekly roller disco at Life Leisure Avondale in Cheadle Heath. It's a great opportunity to have a skate, a boogie, and meet new people.

Just make sure you also have the necessary helmet and pads for extra protection.

Climbing

Climbing has had a renaissance of late with around 1 million people climbing independently indoors in 2018.

And it's fairly easy to get started; all you need is a pair of climbing shoes (which many climbing centres hire out), chalk, and someone to spot you if you're a beginner.

For indoor climbing, The Ridge Climbing Centre in Marple is a great venue for climbers of all abilities, with a 20-metre "rock" feature wall, adult bouldering facilities and outdoor-style climbing.

The Ridge Climbing Centre in Marple, and Awesome Walls in Pear Mill, are great places to start climbing (Image - Unsplash)

Awesome Walls in Pear Mill similarly boasts an artificial climbing wall (one of the highest in England, in fact). The centre offers welcome sessions for anyone new to the sport, as well as inductions to roped climbing, bouldering, and auto-belay.

Once considered a niche sport, climbing offers a full body workout and is particularly good for the heart. It is also known to give brain activity a boost, with one study suggesting that climbing for around two hours improved working memory capacity by 50%.

Tennis

With the season well and truly underway, it's never too late to pick up a racquet and head down to your nearest club or set of courts.

With just a racquet, a few balls and adequate surroundings, you can give yourself a full body workout either on your own, in a pair, or a four.

The swinging of the racquet activates the muscles in your arms, back, shoulders, and core, while the lower half of your body works to keep you running, jumping, and constantly changing direction on court.

Stockport has already produced the tennis icon Fred Perry, and more recently Liam Broady - there is great tennis heritage here (Image - Public domain)

The sport is also good for your bones. Research has shown that those who play tennis have stronger bones than people who don't play racquet sports. This is because, as a weight-bearing workout, it makes use of both gravity and our body weight, applying tension to the muscles and bones which stimulates the latter to produce more tissue.

Head coach of Bramhall Park Lawn Tennis Club Oli Dixon shared his thoughts on what tennis can do for your mind and your social life:

"People describe it as human chess […] making fast decisions as quick as you can.

"You can't think about anything else because that ball is just coming at you and you're trying to win the point, so it's good escapism for your brain."

He added: "It's a really good social sport as well, even if you're just looking to get fit."

Hiking

Sometimes the best form of exercise involves immersing ourselves in nature. The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku ("forest bathing") which encourages a slow enjoyment of nature, actually produces quantifiable physical changes.

Even visiting the same trail or park each time can be beneficial, as the changing of the seasons produces new terrain, colours, and experiences within the landscape.

Though considered a lighter form of exercise, hiking challenges the body more than ordinary walking. Uneven terrains and steep hills help to build and tone the leg muscles.

A stroll along the river Mersey towards Cheadle is proof enough that nature can be found easily in Stockport (Image - Alasdair Perry)

Regular hikes can also reduce the risk of heart disease and dementia, increase endurance, and give our moods a significant boost.

Stockport a good place to hike, and within a fairly short time one can find some countryside. Stretches of the Mersey, and the heights around Werneth Low are a good place to start. And the likes of Disley and the Peak District can be reached by a short hop on the train.

Running

This is another activity that is low on cost and equipment; all you need is suitable footwear and clothing.

And if you do start running, you'd be in good company. A Government survey found that from November 2021 to November 2022 around 5.9 million people in England went running at least twice within 28 days.

Likewise, in Scotland and Wales approximately 14 percent of the population lace up their trainers and go for a jog at least once per month.

According to health experts, running is one of the best cardio activities you can do. Even a jog around the block for at least ten minutes a day can significantly lower your chance of getting cardiovascular diseases.

Canals and riversides are a good place to run in Stockport - but streets do just as well (Image - Unsplash)

There are many running groups in Stockport for anyone who would rather run with company. The Cheadle Village Running Club, Reddish Runners and Heald Green Runners are just some of the groups available.

Catherine Morrison, co-founder of Edgeley-based SK Runners, found herself embracing the benefits of the sport when she took it up some time ago.

"When you've done it [running] you feel absolutely fantastic," she said. "I like being out and about in the fresh air instead of looking at the same thing day in day out."

To anyone thinking of taking up the sport, she said: "Just do it, because you can only get better by going."

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