Sunday, February 1, 2009

Easy Ways To Get More Exercise

Easy Ways To Get More Exercise

     Two of the things that people say they'd do if they had an extra hour in their day is exercise and sleep.

     Exercise doesn't have to involve paying large sums of money to go to a gym, pound away on a treadmill, pump iron and feel inferior as the superfit gym bodies sweat and grunt around you. 

     Save your hard earned cash, don't pay out for a gym membership that you then give up after a few months - after all what are you exercising for? To get fit? Go for a walk, run or cycle.

     Sensible exercise is about increasing your general activity in each and every day and finding things to do that you enjoy. We all know that regular exercise can have beneficial effects to your general health and well-being, increase your energy levels, reduce stress and lift the mood. However busy you might be - find time to get active every day.

     Exercise does not mean you have to end up sweaty and exhausted, although it's good to get the heart-rate up. If we were more active on a daily basis, we would not have the need for gyms to work off the excess calories or keep fit.

     Remember that ANY activity that is over and above what you do normally is going to burning up additional calories.
     Leave the car behind - how many people do I see on a regular basis, driving up to the local corner shop, which is all of ten minutes walk away. It might save five minutes but it's an ideal opportunity for some exercise.


     If you want to get fitter, then jumping in the car at every opportunity is not the way. Short car journeys are very fuel inefficient (bad for your wallet) and bad for the environment (fuel consumption and carbon emissions are higher when the engine is cold. Catalytic converters are only effective for journeys over 5km (3 miles).

     Park further away from work or the shops or at the other end of the car park - enjoy the extra walk. Leave yourself enough time so that you're not rushing and then end up using that as an excuse to park nearer.

     Cycle. With the expense and inconvenience of parking these days, if you have a short journey to make, why not cycle?

     It takes me approximately 20 minutes to drive into town and then 5-10 minutes to find somewhere to park which may or may not be close to where I'm going, so possibly another 5-10 minute walk. It takes about 35-40 minutes to cycle into town, directly to where I'm going and then all I need to do is lock the bike to the nearest lamppost or bike park ... about the same amount of time - except that I do tend to 'glow' when I get there, so it's not always appropriate.

     It's quicker than walking and burns between 75-150 kcal every 30 minutes, even at a gentle pace. Cycle more vigorously and you'll burn up to 600 kcal in the same time.

     Running/Walking. Running may not be for everyone but take a walk at the beginning or end of the day. Get outside in the fresh air at lunchtime and give your legs a stretch. Go for a long walk at the weekend. There are any number of walks that you can do out in the countryside - take the rest of the family along or go out with a friend. It doesn't have to be a great trek

- Get off the bus a couple of stops earlier and walk the extra distance.
- Use the stairs at work, instead of the lift. OK, if you work in a skyscraper, I might let you off.
- Walk the children to school.
- Walk to the nearest post box to mail your letters.

Depending on your pace - even 30 minutes of moderate walking burns between 100-200 kcal.

     Housework - cleaning, dusting, hoovering, scrubbing, these will all give you some additional exercise and burn off a few extra calories - about 40 kcal every 15 minutes. Now there's an incentive for getting the housework done.

     Wash the car by hand - not only does this give you additional exercise but there's another environmental bonus - less electricity and less water. Burn up to 40 kcal every 15 minutes.

     Gardening. An hour or so of gardening - weeding, mowing the lawn and digging all burn calories. Even just 30 minutes of weeding will burn around 100 extra kcal.

     Mow the lawn with a manual lawnmower. Use shears instead of a strimmer to do the edges.

     Swimming. You don't need expensive equipment - just a swimming costume and a pair of goggles. Try out your local pool - even better if you can swim in the sea. A great way to exercise as it supports your body weight and is kinder to joints and works all the muscle groups.


     Start with a few lengths and build up slowly. Vary the strokes so you don't get too bored. Swim at your own pace and don't be intimidated by the other swimmers powering up and down in the fast lane. Even a gentle swim will burn up to 200 kcal every 30 minutes up to 500 kcal if you're really going for it.

     Many of these activities require you to be more organised and leave a little more time to get places. Think about them in advance and then you won't be rushing around and tempted to jump in the car because you ran out of time.

     Think about what you do on a daily basis. How could you build more activity into your day? It's a lot easier to be generally more active during the day than to find the time to take 'specific' exercise. Find at least three ways you can increase your activity.

     Plan time into your diary for exercise at the beginning of the week and make it a priority. Then it won't get forgotten.