Advertisement

First, stop saying you have no time to exercise

First, stop saying you have no time to exercise
Shutterstock

It’s the top excuse I hear from patients when I suggest they get moving. But you do have enough time; what you really need is motivation. Too often people think of exercise in black or white categories: “30 minutes” or “no minutes”. In reality, any minutes of movement are better than none. Here are some of my favourite tricks to get patients started on an exercise routine.

Don’t ignore exercise

Don’t ignore exercise
Shutterstock

It’s powerful medicine for your heart and arteries. It strengthens your cardiovascular system, allowing the heart to pump more blood with less effort. It keeps your arteries elastic and flexible, which allows them to expand to accommodate blood flow, which reduces blood pressure. It makes your tissues more sensitive to insulin, which means cells throughout your body more easily absorb and burn blood sugar for energy. It helps lower levels of triglycerides, tiny packages of fat that float around in the bloodstream. Exercise also helps tamp down inflammation and prevents blood clotting, which can lead to stroke, heart attack and other problems. Finally, exercise creates physiological changes in the brain that lead to an increased sense of wellbeing, confidence and an improved mood.

Don’t like traditional exercises? Childhood hobbies can double as kilojoule-burning workouts.

Take a 15-minute walk

Take a 15-minute walk
Shutterstock

It’s true that it is often recommended that we plan at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise, which is 2.5 hours of a heart-pumping activity. But if you can’t always meet this goal, should you do none at all? No. Less activity than the guidelines is still beneficial. Even a 15-minute walk will bring you some health benefits. What’s most important is this: get started.

Try not to ‘surf’ through commercials breaks

Try not to ‘surf’ through commercials breaks
Shutterstock

If you watch traditional television, don’t be tempted to channel surf during commercials. Think about it: one hour of television can include roughly 22 minutes of commercials. This means that if you’re watching three hours of TV, you can squeeze in a 45-minute workout. Alternate each commercial break with jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, dumbbell overhead raises, triceps dips, lunges, squats and repeat, for a full-body interval workout.

Stop thinking of yourself

Stop thinking of yourself
Shutterstock

That is, practise active acts of kindness. Because one way to motivate yourself to get in small, regular bouts of activity is to do them for someone else. Dedicate small acts of exercise to the good of someone you love, the happiness of a stranger, or the good of society. For example, return your shopping trolley to the shop rather than leave it in the car park. (Do it as a favour to the kid whose job it is to go gather all the trolleys.) While you’re out raking up autumn leaves, clear your neighbours’ driveway, too. Get up off your seat and stand on the bus or train if it is crowded so someone else can have your seat.

Not all these inspiring acts of kindness will help you exercise, but they will make someone’s day!

De-motorvate your life

De-motorvate your life
Shutterstock

Time-saving devices (think dishwashers and elevators) save more than time – they also prevent you from burning kilojoules. Using a dishwasher rather than washing dishes by hand, driving to work instead of walking, and using the lift instead of taking the stairs leads the average person to burn fewer kilojoules a day. Over time, that adds up to five kilos a year. Whenever possible, try not to motor your way through life. Use a broom or rake instead of a leaf blower, your body instead of a remote control, or elbow grease instead of an electric mixer.

Advertisement

Don’t take waiting sitting down

Don’t take waiting sitting down
Shutterstock

We wait a lot: at the supermarket, at the bank, at the post office, at the ATM… And that’s just the waiting we do standing. A lot of it we do sitting down. Consider a doctor’s office waiting room. Or what you do during the average 10 to 20 minutes each of us spends on the telephone each week. Try to stand and move as much as possible while you find yourself waiting. Depending on where you are, you could march on the spot, do a few laps around your house, try a few stretches, or climb a flight of stairs. A little bit can add up: a recent study analysis, published in Circulation, showed that subbing standing for sitting six hours a day can burn kilojoules that can add up to two and a half kilograms of weight in a year.

Track your daily steps

Track your daily steps
Shutterstock

Measure how many steps a day you take, then set a goal to increase the amount by perhaps 500 steps a day for a week, then jump it up again to the next level. New habits such as these will get you there.

  • Park as far away as possible from the entrance to work. (I do this every day, and enjoy a 10-minute walk each morning and each evening.)
  • Spend half of your lunch hour walking.
  • Propose a walking meeting with colleagues if you don’t need access to a computer during the meeting.
  • Take a short walk whenever you arrive to a destination a little early.

Don’t throw in the towel if you miss a workout or five

Don’t throw in the towel if you miss a workout or five
Shutterstock

There are two critical times when people fall off the exercise wagon: after a really busy period at work and after a holiday. They skip one workout and then another and then another. Soon they’ve gone a week or two without exercise and they think, Why bother? I’ve lost everything I gained. Just remember: Taking an exercise break is good for your body and mind. You’ve built up a foundation now, so ease back into it and soon you’ll be back to your regular routine. Cut back on intensity and duration as you ease yourself back into the swing of things.

Take vitamin Y (yoga)

Take vitamin Y (yoga)
Shutterstock

Yoga is a four-for-one exercise. Most people don’t realise that certain types of yoga count as cardio. It also strengthens your muscles, so it counts as weight training, too. Of course, it also gets you flexible. Finally, the emphasis on breathing and the power of your thoughts make it a moving meditation. Some poses, such as Tree and Dancer’s Pose, also improve your balance. Studies have linked yoga with a healthier heart rate pattern, less atrial fibrillation, and lower blood pressure. Start with a beginner’s class, DVD, or yoga instructor you like on YouTube. Even yoga once a week for 15 or 20 minutes offers flexibility, mental focus and relaxation.

These 6 morning yoga stretches will help you feel calm and ready for the day.

Never miss a deal again - sign up now!

Connect with us: