RESIDENTS are stepping out for a new year of fitness out in the open air.

With scores of people looking for ways to get more active this January, new and existing groups are ready to help.

Harwich’s own Couch to 5k will start this month, and will be a 12-week course.

Peter Gooding, from Harwich Runners, said: “Harwich Couch to 5k is a new exercise group starting in Harwich during January.

“The group will meet every Tuesday at 6.30pm for 12 weeks and aims to improve fitness by supporting its members to complete the Couch to 5k programme.

“Couch to 5k is an exercise programme developed by the NHS to help people who do little or no exercise build up to being able to cover 5k, walking, jogging or a mixture of both.

“The full 12-week programme will cost a one-off payment of £5 and is open to non runners/beginners over the age of 16.” Another activity is the Get Moving Walk, which starts at 1pm every Monday at Dovercourt Cliff Park and usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes.

The walk is designed for all abilities to take part, mostly off road, and is aimed at lifting your mood as well as helping with weight management.

The Get Moving circuits starts at 2pm every Monday on the outdoor gym equipment in Dovercourt Cliff Park.

This is a 30-minute session which encourages people to get moving and to tone up.

For anyone with a BMI of 25 or above there’s the My Weight Matters programme, a 12-week weight management programme which is free of charge.

For those wanting to get out for a stroll, Walking for Health takes place Wednesdays at the Beach Diner at Hastings Avenue in Clacton and starts at around noon.

There is also Walton Walk The Weight Off, on Wednesdays, held at Walton Community Centre, starting at 9.30am.

Diane Warner, from Voluntary Services Tendring, which runs the free walks, said: “Walking lifts the mood and can help with weight management, reducing the risks of cardiac disease and diabetes.”