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Easy steps to a more active lifestyle

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Being more active gives you more energy, and of course helps you to build up your fitness to maintain good health and lose weight. But sometimes it can seem hard to fit in enough exercise when your job keeps you cooped up in the office all day. Making an effort to be active wherever you can is a good start to improving your health and fitness, making you feel fresher and brighter as well as supporting your weight loss goals.

Try some of these simple steps to a more active lifestyle…

Walk to work. It’s one of the simplest ways to get more steps into your day. Just get off the tram a few stops too early, or park your car a few blocks from your workplace, and walk the rest of the way. It will get your blood pumping and endorphins flowing, so you’ll feel fresh and energised. 

Take the stairs. Whenever you can, take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. It might not seem like a lot, but every little bit adds up. Taking the stairs burns plenty of calories and helps to tone your muscles, so over time, you’ll feel fitter and stronger.

Walk and talk. When you make a phone call, walk around while you talk. Even just pacing back and forth around the room is better than sitting down.

Put the music on. Dance around to your favourite song for a few minutes- not only will you burn calories, it will also put you in a better mood. Play music while you’re doing the housework as well- the beat will make you work faster and more vigorously. 

Get jumping. Take a short mental break and do 100 jumping jacks- it will only take a few minutes, and you’ll wake up your mind and body.

Walk the dog. Get in the habit of taking the dog for a walk every day. You can even just go down to the park and throw a ball around- the exercise will be good for both of you.

Make it social. Instead of meeting a friend for coffee, arrange to go for a walk together. Or, go for a walk and treat yourselves to coffee afterwards. You’ll be surprised how much further you walk when you’re chatting along the way.

Buy a pedometer. You should aim for at least 10,000 steps a day, and studies have shown that wearing a pedometer can actually make you walk more, because it makes you more aware of what you’re doing. You can buy basic pedometers for $10-20, so clip it on and start counting your steps.

Play with the kids. Get involved in your children’s activities. Take them for a bike ride, or just run around the backyard with them. So much of what we’d call ‘exercise’, kids call ‘play’, so kicking around a ball or playing chasey is a great way to be more active without even realising it.

Have walk-meetings. When you need to discuss something with a colleague at work, suggest going for a walk around the block while you chat- they’ll probably be just as glad to get out of the office, and the fresh air will help you to think more clearly.

Use hand-weights. Invest in a set of light hand-weights- you can get some for less than $20- and use them whenever you get a chance. Even if you just do a few biceps curls during an ad break while watching TV, or a couple of shoulder presses when you wake up, it will make a difference over time.

Ride your bike. Try riding to work a few days a week, or take a leisurely ride on the weekend. Bike riding burns lots of calories and helps build up your strength and fitness, and on a nice day it can be really pleasant. Alternatively, you can invest in a stationary exercise bike and cycle while watching TV or reading.

Get up earlier. Wake up just half and hour earlier and go for a walk, or do some stretching and bodyweight exercises. It will get your body feeling more energised and you’ll start your day feeling more positive.

Exercise in ad breaks. When the ads come on, jump up and jog in place, or do some sit ups and push ups. If you know it’s only for a few minutes, it’s easier to get through- and if you do it in every ad break for an hour, you’ll be getting in a decent amount of activity.

Take up pilates or yoga. If the idea of starting a strenuous cardio program feels daunting, start with something low-impact like pilates and yoga. The different levels of moves make it accessible for beginners, gradually working up to more challenging poses. The added benefit is that you can combine a physical workout with mental relaxation and stress release. 

Go for a swim. Swimming is fun, relaxing and gives you a great full-body workout. You can swim at your own pace- just start with a few laps and work up to more as your strength and fitness improves. 

Do bodyweight exercises. You don’t need special equipment or heaps of time. Just get in the habit of doing a few sit-ups or push-ups whenever you get the chance and you’ll gradually build up your strength.

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