It's been a long winter this year and I'm sure that many of you have opted for the warm comfort of the couch with a cup of tea and a biscuit instead of walking the dog, hitting the gym or going for a swim. Spring is just around the corner, which means summer isn't too far off... so there's plenty of time to get moving and create healthier habits before summer hits.
Now, don't go rushing for the lycra in the back of your wardrobe and googling the best gym membership options... you don't have to join a gym to get moving or get healthy, you just need to add some incidental exercise into your daily life. What is incidental exercise? It's that minor, secondary type of physical activity like walking and carrying things that have disappeared from our daily lives as technology, progress and convenience has increased. The aim is to build in some activity here and there over a period of weeks so that you're moving incidentally about 30 minutes in total per day. Obviously, incidental exercise won't make you look Arnold Schwarnzegger, but it's an excellent starting point if you're inactive.
Adding incidental exercise into your daily routine will take some thinking, a bit of planning andat first you will have to make a conscious decision to go against your natural instincts... but it will pay off over time and before you know it, you'll getting 30 minutes of exercise a day without even going to the gym!!
Here they are, three simple tips for adding incidental exercise into your daily life:
Tip 1: Walk to work
If you live close to work you may already be doing this, if so, change your route to add in some extra distance or if you work from home, consider taking a walk around the block at the start and end of each day. If you catch the bus, get off one stop early and walk the extra distance, gradually building up to two or three stops (depending on the distance). Or, if you drive to work, look around for parking places further away and use that extra distance to build in some walking time.
Tip 2: Take the stairs
Start with the '3 Floor rule' - if you're going up or down less than 3 floors, take the stairs. Going down stairs works different muscles to going up, so it's a good practice to go both ways.
Over time, increase your 'floor rule' to whatever suits you... or, if you're in really tall buildings, break up the walks by walking and taking the lift. For example if you're going up 10 floors, consider walking 1 to 3, take the lift from 3 - 7 and walk from floor 7 to 10. Every little bit helps!
Tip 3: Move around the house
Technology in the home has made our modern lives much easier, but also more sedentary. Try getting up to change the channel, either by walking to the TV or placing the remote control elsewhere in the room that you have to get up to get it.
Or try putting your washing away one item at a time... place your washing basket in one room and take one item at a time to put away. If you like to chat on the phone, try standing or walking around the house while you do it.
If you want to see the results for yourself, grab a pedometer (apps are great for this) and keep a track of your normal daily routine for one week. Then, incorporate one or two of these incidental activities into your day and see how much your results differ (and feel free to tell us all about it :) ).
These tips may not seem like exercise, but over time you will feel more active and who knows, you may be inspired to try a sport, join a gym or start running... the possibilities are endless!
How about you, do you use incidental exercise in your day? Please share your tips in the comments below.