Our bodies are designed for motion but our jobs and lifestyle mean many of us don’t move as much as we need to. We’re built to twist, bend, squat, skip and run. So how can we do more?
I don’t have time
Our lives are busy, it’s true. Guidelines suggest we aim to do at least 10,000 steps daily. But, we don’t have to start slogging at the gym for hours on end to up our activity. There’s a whole host of things we can do to move more that won’t take up much time or headspace.
The concept of snacking on exercise – as opposed to doing it all in one go, or not at all – is a helpful one. The idea being that we fit small windows of movement into every day. This can improve our overall fitness and sense of wellbeing as well as productivity. Try some knee raises while waiting for the microwave to ping or squat whilst brushing your teeth. You don’t have to wait for a full exercise session, these ‘snacks’ fit into daily life.
Fill your day with movement
- Walk to and from work. If you have to drive, try parking a little further away and walking the rest. Many homeworkers find it beneficial for the body and mind to put their coat on and walk around the block before starting their work.
- Take a break from your desk. Be sure to take yourself away from your desk at lunchtime. Pop out for a walk and get some fresh air in those lungs. It’s a great way to clear your head and get your steps up.
- Housework. Hoovering, sweeping, dusting, cleaning windows . . . anything that gets your heart rate increasing is great.
- Gardening. Digging, pruning, bending and carrying offers a super workout.
- Walking the kids to school.
- Getting off a bus stop one stop earlier than usual. You’ll hardly notice in terms of the time it takes, but the distances all add up.
- Walking to the corner shop to get your daily essentials rather than driving.
- Park at the far end of the supermarket car park.
- Try taking two stairs at a time, it’s much more challenging for our bodies.
Structured exercise can be a fine pursuit. Like lots of things in life, the key is to find what you enjoy and you’ll stick with it. We naturally prioritise doing things we like, things that give us energy and put a smile on our face. If you don’t feel like that when it comes to exercise, maybe you haven’t found the right type yet.
Team player or lone wolf?
Do you enjoy commitment, communicating with others, accountability and thrive on competitiveness? If so, you’re likely to be a team player who will succeed at team sports like football, netball, rugby, cricket, volleyball.
Or are you someone who craves independence and autonomy? Then it’s likely, you’re a lone wolf who will enjoy solitude and solo sporting activities like running, cycling, hiking, swimming, surfing.
A variety of activities are available locally, many of which are free or low-cost. Here’s some activity inspiration:
- Health walks – check out your local park or nature reserve to join a health walk run by trained volunteers
- Green gyms are free gym equipment located in park areas around the country, complete with usage instructions at each station
- Cycling – you don’t need a flashy frame, any roadworthy bike will do to start with. Don’t forget a helmet and hi vis clothing too
Inside & out
- Ball sports – football, volleyball, netball, basketball. Take your pick, check out your local leisure centre to find local teams and courts to hire
- Swimming – find your local pool, gym or even outdoor swimming society if you’re feeling brave. Water based exercise is great for joint issues or if you feel inhibited on dry land
- Zumba / Aqua Zumba – fun and fast with upbeat music, perfect to do with friends
- Pilates & Yoga – low impact exercise that will strengthen your core and help you relax
- Gym work & crossfit – use weights, cardio and resistance exercises to build your muscles up
There are a multitude of UK wide organisations offering different ways of exercising:
- The mental health charity Mind has started a range of groups that promote physical activity as part of mental wellbeing. Go to their website to find out more.
- Sported is the UK’s largest network of community groups supporting half a million young people to overcome barriers to reach their full potential.
- Fit as a fiddle, by Age UK funds innovative projects that enhance older people’s health and wellbeing.