The importance of exercise goes far beyond losing weight, preventing weight gain and long-term weight management. In fact, regular physical activity helps your body function better and improves sleep. As well as protecting you from developing certain types of cancer, it helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure. As you are getting older it reduces the risk of falling and improves cognitive function as well as helping to prevent osteoporosis. Perhaps most importantly, it can help to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety and elevates mood. So, see my top tips below for how you can introduce some movement and exercise into your everyday life, no matter what your restrictions are!
Technology may be your friend
Wearable devices such as the Fit Bit, Apple iwatch and Nike Fuel Band, to name a few, can tell you how much you have moved in a day and estimate how many calories you have burned. Set yourself a realistic target number of daily steps (any number of steps beyond what you’re currently doing will yield benefits) and stick to it.
Park far away and take the stairs
Park a little farther away at work or when visiting the local shops. Walking that little bit further will help you to tot up some extra steps (and may help prevent annoying car park dints as you’ll be parked in the ‘less popular’ spots!) Another idea is to take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator if you are only going up a couple of flights.
Walk to/from the restaurant
Eat local and save on a taxi fare or designated driver, walking home after a meal will not only help you to move more but will aid in the digestion of the meal you’ve just eaten.
Do what you love or have forgotten you loved doing
With the time constraints of busy family and work demands, it’s easy to let our hobbies fall by the way side. Football, Tennis, Kickboxing, Yoga, Weight Training, walking, gardening, whatever! Do what YOU like. Don’t be limited by ‘standard exercise’. Just move more!
Drink plenty of water
This sounds an odd one but by drinking water regularly throughout the day, you are going to have to go for regular toilet breaks. You now have a guilt-free reason to take a walk to the toilet and back! To get extra steps in, use a toilet in another part of your building, which may give you an opportunity to use the stairs as well. It’s easy to forget to take a 5-minute walk break every hour, but it’s impossible to forget to go the toilet!
Stand up more
Sitting down constricts circulation, slows your metabolism, and tightens muscles and connective tissues. Even exercising for an hour a day can't do much to compensate for the 10 or so you spend sat slumped behind a desk or behind the wheel of a car. Fortunately there's an easy solution - standing burns 1.4 x more calories a minute than sitting and puts you at less risk of a host of cardiovascular diseases.
Clean your home regularly
Most people underestimate what good exercise cleaning can be, especially if you have a large home. Cleaning involves plenty of walking, turning and twisting, lifting, and stretching – all of which are very beneficial for your body. Washing dishes by hand and using a vacuum cleaner and mop can also be an easy way to burn a few extra calories.
Go to the park
Taking the kids or grandkids to the park can easily turn into a full workout for you! Chasing them round, pushing the pushchair, playing games, pushing them on the swings or carrying the bikes when they get tired are all great activities. If you don’t have kids - watch some and be inspired. A couple of laps round the park, feeding the ducks and you’ll soon burn some calories.
Maximize Your TV Watching Time
Most people spend a lot of time watching TV. That means that they are sat down more, and as I’ve mentioned before too much sitting is bad. However, there are many ways to be active while you watch TV.
Hold a plank or do some bodyweight exercises like air squats or jump jacks during the adverts; consider a stationary bike or X trainer – pedal away whilst you watch your favourite program.
Stop going through life with the minimum of physical effort
Modern society has done a great job of teaching us that saving effort is better, but this is not the case when it comes to moving more and exercise. Don’t think of exercise as something that requires a change of clothes and a warm up. Think outside the box, move a bit more, and soon it’ll become part of your routine and lifestyle.
This article first appeared in Urban Market as a guest column from Adam Batchelor