The benefits of exercise go far beyond what it can do for our bodies. Feeding our energy levels, it can also raise self-esteem, boost the immune system, stimulate the brain and lift anxiety. If daily life gets in the way of your quality time for working out, it’s time to get creative and find new ways to work that body.
1. Go for a walk in your lunch break
Scientists have found that sedentary women who start walking briskly for half an hour a day, four days a week, have almost the same low risk of heart attack as women who have exercised all their lives. Vary your routes or if you can’t get out of the office, jog up and walk down the stairs a few times. Download a fitness app to your smartphone so you can track your activity (how far you walked in a set time, for example) and celebrate your progress.
No, really! Shopping can provide the ideal opportunity for a spot of cardio and resistance exercise. Work up some aerobic time by increasing your usual browsing stroll to a brisk walk between shops, then for resistance, carry your bags rather than using a trolley. Why not squat to reach products on lower shelves and do calf raises while queuing?
3. Kickstart your downtime
It’s good to do one session of high-intensity exercise a week, but this doesn’t have to involve the gym. It could be 20 to 30 minutes of interval training that you do on your way to collect the kids from school or at a time when everyone else in your household likes to watch a TV show that you don’t like. Interval training involves short bursts of high intensity exercise followed by short recovery periods which you repeat (eg sprinting then walking, sprinting then walking).
4. Exercise at your desk
Through the day, when boredom strikes or you’re feeling a pang to break out a packet of biscuits, try these easy mini-workouts: sit on your chair and tense your bottom for 10 sets of 10; do leaning push-ups using your arms against your desk; try leg extensions to work your abs by sitting on your chair, holding your legs straight and lifting them up and down.
5. Keep a personal trainer in your pocket
A personal trainer can really help you keep focused and tell you when you’re ready for a fresh challenge, but they’re not cheap. Many well respected trainers offer online workout advice and stepped programmes for a much cheaper fee. You get daily updates or targets by text or email and your progress is charted when you update your performance stats in your account area on the website.
Finally – go ‘pro’
Be inspired by reading how professionals improve their sporting performance in tennis, cycling, squash and swimming, then try their techniques for yourself. Read more in our article Expert advice to instantly up your game.
SAVVY TIP Get outdoors
When you exercise outside, your body has to work harder to stay warm, so you burn more calories.
IMPORTANT Before you take on any new exercises or change your regular routines, consult your GP if you have any medical concerns.