When looking to add more physical activity into your weekly schedule, it’s hard not to get discouraged. We all know that making time for daily workouts can be a challenge. However, when it comes to exercise the good news is that often, a little can equal a lot.
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Exercise, unlike say, sleep, has a cumulative effect. While it is recommended that the average adult get at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week, this doesn’t necessarily mean fitting in five separate 30 minute all-out sweat sessions, but rather making sure all of your total activity adds up to 150 minutes.
Of course, 30-minute sessions do have their benefits and given that 30 minutes isn’t outrageously long, it is amazing what kind of high intensity workout can be squeezed out of that short time. But, as we all know, sometimes even finding 30 extra minutes can be challenging, especially when you factor in the time it takes to change, get to a workout space and shower after a sweaty session. Research has shown that even adding small bits of exercise into your day can lead to a significantly lower risk of developing heart disease.
While aiming for mini sessions of at least 10 minutes is ideal, remember that something is always better than nothing, even if that something is a quick one-minute wall squat. If you know how real the struggle of finding time to exercise is, then this post is for you.
Between finding time to eat well, stay on top of your game at work, have a social life and get a decent sleep, we all know carving time for exercise can be tough. Here are a few small things you can change to make getting exercise in a little easier.
Sneaky, Simple Ways To Get More Exercise:
Get off subway or bus one stop early. The distance between stations is usually not that long, so make the most of your commute by getting off one stop early and hoofing it the rest of the way. Try to walk at a moderately brisk pace to increase your heart rate.
Instead of wasting time trying to find that perfect parking spot right by the entrance, park at the other end of the lot where the spots are bountiful and spend the time walking to the door.
While hiking all the way up to the 30th floor of a building may not be realistic (unless this challenge excites you, then by all means go for it), take the stairs when possible. Give yourself a goal of climbing a certain number of flights each day. You can also cut your elevator journey in half and vow to do the other half of it on foot.
Instead of picking up the phone to call someone at work, get out of your chair and walk to their desk down the hall or on the next floor. While you’re at it, do an extra lap of the office for good measure.
When your phone rings at work or at home, take it as a cue to get up and moving around. Walk on the spot or go for a walk if you are on a cellphone.
Set up hourly reminders to move your body. When the alert goes off, get up and stretch, go for a quick walk, or stand up and do some squats.
Instead of grabbing a coffee when you hit that mid-afternoon slump, get up and do some jumping jacks first. If you still need that coffee afterwards, jog to your favourite java joint and walk an extra lap around the block once you’ve got it.
If you are waiting for something at home like a returned call or food in the microwave, make the most of your time by doing a quick wall sit or standing calf raises.
Keep a small hand weight nearby at work and periodically do some bicep curls throughout the day.
If you’re watching TV, make sure to get up during the commercial breaks or get down on the floor and do some planks. For those of us who subsist on Netflix (you know who you are), don’t just sit there like a log binge-watching your favourite show for five hours straight. Set a timer, and every five minutes, plank for one minute; you won’t believe how strong your core will be by the time you’re done with Breaking Bad.
While grocery shopping, carry two large totes and load them up instead of grabbing a cart. Just be sure to evenly distribute your goods.
Plan active outings with friends and family. Hit up a new fitness class, plan a game of touch football or even just incorporate a night of serious dancing into your social plans.
Drink a lot of water. Not only is staying hydrated incredibly beneficial to your health but the increased water intake will result in increased bathroom trips which means more walking. This also means you’ll have to get up more to refill your water bottle.
If all else fails, simply aim to sit less. The scary thing about sitting is that even when we are very active outside of our sedentary jobs and behaviours, the negative effects of prolonged periods of sitting seem to outweigh the benefits of exercise.
Remember, the key to seeing actual gains is not about how long you do it for but about intensity. During any short period of activity, try and rev it up a bit and get your heart racing. These bursts of high intensity training should be uncomfortable. The greatest benefits will come when you work at an intensity level of about 8 to 9 out of 10, no matter how long the session may be.