Healthy Living In Leith

Posted by in May's Magazine

Want to be healthy? Don’t know where to start? This column will hopefully show you how, and how to do it on your doorstep. As a Personal Trainer living and working in Leith, I am delighted to share some of my favourite hints with Leither readers.

This idea was born from a regular half-hour segment broadcast on Leith FM at 3pm on the first Monday of every month. Rocca Gutteridge and I chat about realistic ways of getting fit locally. So here is ‘Healthy Living in Leith’ – the text version!


Spring is the perfect time to start a fitness programme. The days are long, the weather mild, and people naturally feel like being more active. To get started, all you need to do is get outside and move a little faster than usual. For example, if you wander up the Walk to get to work (or even down it), try walking a little faster. You need to get your heart rate to the point where you feel slightly puffed. Ideally you want to have your heart rate elevated to the ‘slightly puffed, but still able to talk’ level for at least 30 minutes continuously, at least three times per week.

This means if your walking commute is only 20 minutes long, you may need to add a bit onto it, or take a detour, a few times a week. Leith Links is a fabulous space – the birthplace of golf (take that, St Andrews) – is also over one mile around it’s perimeters, 1.55 miles (2.5 km) to be precise. My suggestion to the budding runners amongst you, is to start at a fast walk to warm up, then jog/walk alternately between the street-light poles. In sports speak this is called interval training, where you push yourself, then let your heart rate recover between bouts of effort. You will be able to manage longer distances if you vary your speed (and therefore burn more calories)

Pilrig Park is another good jogging park and a very manageable half a mile round. Do a few laps around and say hello to the friendly dog walkers. The more folk who use parks the safer they become. I like to stop at the top of the hill near Balfour House and use the ‘buckfast bench’ for press ups and tricep dips and even a bit of stretching.

Running is not the only way to get fit. Pop on down to the recently refurbished Leith Victoria Swim Centre off Great Junction Street and enjoy a workout in the water. Leith Victoria is one of the friendliest pools around. I’ve taught aqua aerobics there and the class is always a great laugh and good workout. They also have ‘female only’ time on a Monday evening if you’re a little shy. Exercise in water is easy on the joints and highly recommended for pregnant ladies, elderly folk and those recovering from injuries. If you’ve got wee ones, take them for a treat to Waterworld – open weekends and school holidays – which is practically guaranteed to wear them out! See for info on both facilities.

My personal favourite way of keeping in shape is commuting by bike. Cycling avoids the dreaded road works and is free – once you’ve got a bike. It is also carbon neutral and, as an added bonus, gives you a nice ass. Richard at Leith Cycle Co on the corner of Balfour Street, will hire you a bike, service your old one, or sell you a reasonably priced new one. A good, flat, and traffic free route, is along the cycle path from The Shore to Cramond. Buy a Spokes map, either from Leith Cycle Co, or online at and discover Edinburgh’s hidden paths.

Above all enjoy!

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