Getting fit doesn’t have to involve sweating it out at the gym or a defined workout. It can simply be a case of incorporating more activity into your daily life and fitting in short bursts of exercise when you can. For example, the health benefits of three 15-minute bursts of activity are just as high as for one continuous 45-minute session. Being moderately active throughout the day is also healthier than sitting at your desk all day, followed by an intense 1-hour workout, which is a common pattern for people with office jobs.
We simply need to change the way we view physical activity and get a little creative about how to squeeze it into our schedules. Here’s a reminder of how physical activity will improve your health if you need inspiration: –
Improves Mood and Reduces Stress
Exercise stimulates the release of stress-busting, feel-good chemicals in the brain
Better Sleep & Feel Energised
Regular exercise improves sleep quality, whilst movement creates energy instantly lifting your mood.
Boosts Your Immune System
Moderate exercise boosts your immune system, over-train and it has the opposite effect, so be careful!
To lose weight, it must be in conjunction with the correct diet, exercise alone is effective for maintaining a healthy weight
Builds Strength and Muscles
Resistance exercise in particular, that includes weight lifting and planks!
A Healthy Heart
Exercise keeps the heart and blood vessels healthy, lowers blood pressure, cholesterol and your risk of heart disease and stroke
Great For Digestion
Exercise causes the muscles of the digestive system to contract which keeps things moving
Make time for your social life but not for exercise? Well, there is no longer a need to choose between the two, as you can now do both at the same time! There are plenty of great new ways to get active with your mates and have a laugh at the same time. So next time instead of arranging to meet at your usual bar or restaurant get creative and try out one of these ideas. Disco yoga is a new fitness craze in London and takes place every week at Trapeze Bar, Shoreditch. More info can be found at www.discoyoga.uk. Morning raves are a super fun way to work up a sweat, these rave-style dance parties serve healthy juices instead of alcohol and the profits go to charity, so everyone wins! There are early morning pre-work sessions and longer ones on Saturday mornings, see www.morninggloryville.com. Dance classes are always a laugh – why not try Bollywood, Burlesque or Street Dance at Pineapple studios www.pineapple.uk.com. Horse riding is a lovely weekend activity to do with your pals and simply going for a walk in the park is a healthier way to have a catch-up than sitting in the pub!
Build Activity into your Daily Life
As well as structured exercise, simply moving more and sitting down less over the day makes a big difference to your health, fitness and how many calories you burn. Small actions such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking up those long escalators at the tube and standing up and moving around while taking phone calls, all add up to have a significant effect. There is even a scientific term for this; non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT includes all the activity and movement we do, that isn’t structured exercise. It includes how active you are over the day, carrying out your work, walking to work and even fidgeting! Increasing NEAT by being more active has a big impact on our metabolic rate and how many calories we burn – it can account for up to 2000 calories variation between the most and the least active people. Ensuring you never sit still for more than an hour is a great habit to start with – setting a reminder on your phone until it becomes automatic works well. Using a fitness tracker, pedometer or phone to count your daily steps is another great way to monitor how much you move.
High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT is the ultimate workout for people short on time. Results can be achieved in a relatively short time compared with other cardiovascular workouts. It is a type of interval training involving short bursts of exercise at maximum capacity interspersed with recovery periods of low intensity exercise. It typically takes around 20-30 minutes to achieve the same benefits that you would achieve in an hour of ‘normal’ continuous exercise, so is perfect to squeeze in before work or in your lunch break. You also don’t need to go to a gym, as it can be done at home or outside in the park. HIIT is one of the best workouts for raising your metabolism – it burns calories while you are exercising and continues to keep your metabolic rate up for the rest of the day. Consulting a personal trainer to start you off is advisable in order to hone the technique and make sure you are doing it safely.
Journey To Work
Incorporating exercise into your daily commute is a great time-saving, healthy habit to adopt. Your options are walking, running or cycling part or all of your way to or from work. It may add some extra time to your journey, but nowhere near the time taken out of your day to travel to and from the gym and do a work out. You could even save time – cycling can be quicker than the bus or driving in rush hour for example. If your commute is long, it can be for just part of your journey, for example you might get off the bus 4 stops early and walk the last mile. Doing this every day, or even twice a day will add up over the week. You can also save money on fares and benefit the environment, at the same time as getting some cardiovascular and leg toning exercise!
Work Out at Home
Great for rainy days, when the thought of going outside is enough to put anyone off, for parents looking after young children, people working from home and for everyone to do in the mornings before work. There are a huge variety of workout videos on-line and DVDs for sale, with everything from yoga to dance workouts and aerobics. Finding something you enjoy and will actually stick to is probably the most important factor here. Working out with your baby or toddler has become a recent trend, and is a great way for new Mums (and Dads) to stay active. It also reduces the risk of developing postnatal depression. Exercises involve using the baby as your ‘weights’, lifting them above your head, for example. This can be fun bonding time with your child, as well as fantastic muscle-building resistance exercise.