Relax, I am not the trainer that is going to sit here and make you feel bad about missing a workout. While physical activity and exercise must absolutely be a priority to achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle, occasionally, there is just no time. Whether it is a demanding job, or family commitments that are leaving you pressed for time, sometimes going to the gym just is not a priority. Fortunately, you do not have to go to a conventional gym to exercise! This article will provide you some tools to use on the days where you cannot possibly find a minute to breathe, let alone go to the gym.
Before diving in, we must first be sure that we understand the differences between physical activity and exercise. Physical activity is the described as movements that we produce to get around in day-to-day life; for example, grocery shopping. On the other hand, exercise is planned and intentional, meaning that the movements being produced are intended to better our health; for example, going for a run or lifting weights. Can we turn physical activity into exercise? Absolutely! By being intentional with our physical activity, like parking father away in the parking lot and walking the extra distance, we turn a normal daily movement into exercise. Here are some other tips to fit exercise into your daily life:
What you can do:
Take small breaks and split up your exercise:
Instead of walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes at night when you are more likely to be tired and require relaxation, split your workout into 10-minute sections that will accumulate throughout the day. It is a common misconception that exercise must be done in one sitting at your conventional gym. Exercise can most definitely be split up into more manageable sections. To achieve this, try taking a few walking breaks at work, or maybe even organize a walking meeting.
Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator:
It is the age-old suggestion, and though it may sound redundant, taking the stairs instead of using the elevator will increase your heart rate, and therefore the calories burned throughout your day. Futhermore, taking the stairs will help increase and maintain lower body strength. This will allow us to play with our kids, take part in our hobbies, and remain independent as we age.
Turn housework into exercise:
Try doing lunges while vacuuming, or squatting while putting dishes away. Though it may not seem like much, engaging your muscles in an intentional way is exercise.
Incorporate exercise into spending time with the family:
Instead of sitting around the TV after work and school, enjoy the weather and go outside for a walk or bike ride in the summer. If it is too cold outside, go to your local rec center and play a game of badminton or any other sport that gets everyone up and moving.
Decrease sedentary behavior during transit time:
Walking to the bus is a step in the right direction, however, if you then sit on the bus from 30-45 minutes to get to school or work, your sedentary time is increased. Instead, try standing on the bus! The natural sway of the bus as it changes lanes or turns corners will require you to work against gravity to keep yourself upright. Anyone who stands on the bus knows that it also requires balance. If your balance is something that you would like to work on, consider this tip a double whammy. Choosing to stand instead of sit may improve your strength, balance and coordination without you even having to try! If you do not take city transit, park your car a few blocks away and walk the extra distance to your destination. If this is too much, simply parking your car farther away than you usually would in the parking lot is a way of increasing your physical activity.
Stand whenever possible:
Lastly, and perhaps the most important tip of all may be the most simple to incorporate into daily life. By decreasing your sitting time and increasing the time that you are standing or moving, you are increasing your health in ways that you may not even realize. Studies show that periods of prolonged sedentary behavior; for example, sitting at work, TV viewing, and computer use are linked to increased risk of developing chronic diseases and premature death (Owen, et. Al, 2010). By standing at your desk, taking breaks that incorporate movement, and using the tips outlined above, you are taking steps to better your health.
Physical activity and exercise are very important and must be included in our daily schedules to ensure a healthy and happy life. However, we realize that occasionally, other aspects of life take precedence. On these days, use the tips outlined above and remember, doing something is better than doing nothing!
By: Melissa Everest
Owen, N., Healy, G. N., Matthews, C. E., & Dunstan, D. W. (2010). Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, 38(3), 105–113. doi:10.1097/JES.0b013e3181e373a2
Owen, N., Healy, G. N., Matthews, C. E., & Dunstan, D. W. (2010). Too much sitting: the population-health science of sedentary behavior. Exercise and sport sciences reviews, 38(3), 105.
Hamilton, M. T., Healy, G. N., Dunstan, D. W., Zderic, T. W., & Owen, N. (2008). Too little exercise and too much sitting: inactivity physiology and the need for new recommendations on sedentary behavior. Current cardiovascular risk reports, 2(4), 292-298.
Salmon, J., Owen, N., Crawford, D., Bauman, A., & Sallis, J. F. (2003). Physical activity and sedentary behavior: a population-based study of barriers, enjoyment, and preference. Health psychology, 22(2), 178.