As a personal trainer, I work with a wide range of clients. Some are extremely fit and looking for help to achieve specific goals. More often, however, I work with people who are out of shape and just don’t know how to get started. They may not even like exercise, but appreciate that they would benefit from moving a little bit more.
For those people, here are seven simple ways to sneak exercise and activity into their daily lives without too much effort.
1) Count your steps
If you have a smartphone, you likely have a built in step counter (if not, you can easily download a step counting app.) Track your steps for a full week and use the average number per day as your personal minimum. Check in with yourself each evening after dinner to see if you’ve hit your daily minimum. If not, go for a walk until you hit your daily step goal. Once you’ve established this new baseline for a couple of weeks, increase the number by five per cent for a few weeks before adding another five per cent.
2) Indulge in fitness snacks throughout the day
Just like you would upgrade your nutrition by snacking on fruit, veggies or Greek yogurt throughout the day, you can easily add to your daily activity and exercise level by performing 30 second exercise “snacks” whenever you can fit them in. Here are three examples :
1: As you wait for your kettle to boil or toast to pop, do 20 squats and 20 counter pushups.
2: Balance on one foot at a time while you brush your teeth or wash the dishes. When you are finished, do 20 side leg lifts with each leg before moving on.
3: When you climb the stairs in your home, march up and down on the bottom step for 30 seconds three times per day. 4- When you are making a meal, grab a couple of soup cans and perform side shoulder raises for 30 seconds.
3) Get active while watching TV
When you watch TV, get up during commercials to walk around the house and/or do a few crunches, hip bridges or arm exercises with dumbbells or resistance bands. You could also climb a level in your home whenever the commercials are playing; top to bottom or bottom to top and back, depending on where your TV is. Depending on the length of your show, you might climb the stairs 10 or more times during the show.
4) Walk after eating
A 2016 study out of New Zealand found that walking for just 10 minutes after eating a meal can lower blood sugar levels by 22 per cent. This is especially significant for people living with diabetes, but is meaningful for anyone who is looking for simple ways to better their health and control their weight and body composition.
5) Sit Up Straighters
It’s a given that many of us sit way too much these days. This can lead to poor posture and back, neck and shoulder pain. One way to offset this is to perform “back pocket” stretches hourly throughout your day when you are sitting. These movements build strength in the muscles of the upper back that are necessary for great posture while they stretch the shoulders and chest muscles and only take a few seconds to do. Doing a few seconds of directed stretching every hour works better than devoting time for a longer stretch once per day.
6) Upgrade your walks with strength training
A great way to increase the effectiveness of your walks is to carry a resistance band with you (preferably one with handles.) Walk briskly before stopping every few minutes to perform a series of upper body strength exercises by looping the band around a tree or pole . Here is a simple routine that you can do most anywhere: Each time you take a break during your walk, perform three sets of chest presses x 15, upper back rows x 15, biceps curls x 15, triceps kickbacks x 15 and body weight squats x 15
7) Make life inconvenient, on purpose
Park as far from building entrances as you can when you are running errands and take the stairs instead of elevators or escalators. Stand as often as possible where you might normally sit; in waiting rooms, at sporting events etc … Do chores manually like washing dishes and raking leaves. Carry laundry up and down stairs in smaller bundles to increase your stair climbing. Criss-cross the grocery store from one end to the other while shopping.