Many people start off the new year determined to get a bit fitter, having spent much of the Christmas break sitting on the sofa eating festive treats and watching tv. But once the holiday season is over, it can be difficult if you have a busy schedule to go out running or cycling regularly, and the wintery conditions can be demotivating.
Whilst joining a gym may offer an alternative to pounding along dark rain-lashed streets, not everyone can afford the membership fees and no matter how friendly and welcoming the staff, gyms can still be daunting places if you aren’t a diehard fitness enthusiasts or confident about your body image.
So is there another option, particularly if you are someone who really just wants to be a little more physically active, rather than a super-fit athlete? The answer is yes.
The good news is that even relatively mild exercise can be beneficial to health and well-being, and it’s very easy to integrate this into your normal daily routine. Here are a few simple tips that could really ease you towards a more active lifestyle.
1. Count your steps
Set yourself a daily steps target to meet consistently over a period of a week. Then gradually increase the daily target week by week. There are plenty of great activity tracker gadgets on the market that will count your steps and give you helpful updates on your progress, but a cheap pedometer will suffice if you are on a tight budget.
It’s amazing how having a step target can motivate you to walk further each day than you would do otherwise. Always try to walk briskly though, as this constitutes moderate aerobic activity which is what you should be aiming for.
2. Give your car a rest
Walk or cycle as much of your daily commute as possible, and if there is time beforehand, walk your kids to school too.
3. Get off the bus, tram or tube a stop or two early
Regularly walking that little bit further to work or to the shops can make a big difference and who knows, it might also reduce the fare!
4. Park further away
If you must drive to work or to the shops, don’t always try to park as close to your destination as is physically possible. Select a more distant car park and be prepared to walk a bit further. Outlying car parks are often cheaper and it can be easier to find a space too!
5. Use the stairs
Try to avoid taking the lift if you are only going up or down a few floors. If you are going up or down a long way, get out of the lift a floor or two early. And don’t be tempted to just stand still on an escalator or moving walkway if the way ahead is unimpeded - keep walking!
6. Don’t just sit there
If you tend to spend a lot of time at work seated at a desk, make sure you get up and walk about for at least five to ten minutes every hour. This not only introduces an element of physical exercise, it also rests your eyes if you are using a display screen, and can help refresh your thought processes too.
Rather than send your co-workers an e-mail, walk over to their department to discuss work matters with them in person. And if you are making or taking a telephone call, stand up. Also, whenever possible, go for a lunchtime walk or to the local pool for a swim.
7. Walk a dog
Your furry friend needs to be walked sufficiently each day, helping you to get fitter in the process. If owning your own dog is not practical, why not offer to walk someone else’s regularly? You could even sign-up to https://www.borrowmydoggy.com.
8. Be more active around the home
Housework, cooking, gardening and DIY can provide a mild workout and will certainly help you stay off the sofa for longer!
9. Make the most of the winter daylight hours during the weekend
Go for a longish walk or cycle with your family or friends, or perhaps take part in some form of regular voluntary work party activity that keeps you on your feet and provides a bit of a workout.
10. Get a ‘fitness buddy’
Find someone else who, like you, is keen to get more exercise, so you can provide each other with mutual support and encouragement. Comparing each other’s achievements can be a great motivator!
And who knows, once you have developed a taste for exercise through simple actions such a these, you may even feel the urge to step up a gear and regularly go running, cycling or circuit-training. You may even find yourself joining the gym…