Even when you're busy or tired, finding ways to build extra activity into your day can make an enormous difference to your weight and health. Follow our 9 tips to help you move more, and prove that exercise doesn't have to be taken seriously, just regularly.
1. Make the most of your mornings
While any time is a good time to exercise, there are some special advantages to those who work out in the morning. The earlier in the day you exercise, the less disruptive it will be, and the more likely you will be to actually do it.
Morning exercise elevates your mood and generates a positive and health focused mindset for the rest of the day. What's more, the body may burn a higher proportion of body fat as fuel when you exercise before breakfast.
2. Accumulate activity
You don't have to do all your exercise at once for it to be beneficial. Beginners, or people who struggle to find big chunks of time, may find it easier to break exercise into smaller bouts performed at different times throughout the day. You don't even need to change clothes or switch shoes. Just find a few minutes to walk every morning, noon and night, and before long, you will have accumulated a decent daily total.
3. Stand up for yourself
Extended periods of sitting are thought to be damaging to your health, and certainly increase the chances of weight gain. Any time you've sat in a chair for 60 minutes, spend a few minutes standing, stretching and walking around. These regular bursts of movement boost circulation and counteract the harmful effects of sitting. This is especially important for people with desk-bound jobs, or for people who spend a lot of time sitting down.
4. Add on a little extra activity
Are there times during the day when you are already active that could be extended out a little further? For example, you could get off the bus one stop early, walk to a more distant cafe to collect your sandwich at lunch, park your car a little further away from your intended destination, or take the stairs instead of the escalator. Since you are already out there moving, just add on a little more movement for good measure.
5. Find an extra 10 minutes
If a lack of time is holding you back from exercising, look for small adjustments in how your time is managed. The key is to adopt a few simple strategies that can save precious minutes every day, giving you the extra time for physical activity. Television is one area worth highlighting, where you could either watch less, do something in the ad breaks, or even exercise while watching. Other tips include standing while you're on the phone, and scheduling exercise sessions in advance and recording them in your diary.
6. Family fitness fun
Combine family time with fun activities where everyone can get involved. This could include a visit to the beach, an active picnic, bushwalking, bike riding, canoeing, or sporting games such as soccer, volleyball, basketball or tennis. You don't even need much equipment or a lot of time. Just 10 minutes of kite flying, totem tennis, Frisbee or jump rope will keep everyone on the move and highly entertained.
7. Track your steps
Aiming for 10,000 steps each day is a worthy goal for health and weight control. It places equal importance on both planned and incidental activity as a method of reaching your activity goals. There are a wide range of pedometers, wristband devices and smart phone apps that can track your movement. These keep you accountable and motivated, giving you feedback on how you are progressing.
8. Learn to love intervals
When you are looking for fast results in the quickest possible time, it's worth including interval training as part of your exercise routine. Short, sharp bursts of intense effort interspersed with rest periods helps to accelerate the fat burning, fitness boosting benefits of exercise. Just make sure to develop a solid base of fitness first, and gradually increase the intensity and duration of your intervals over a month or two.
9. Be a weekend warrior
If you struggle to find the time to exercise during the week, use the weekend to make up for it. This could involve playing sport, training for or competing in an organised event such as a fun run, or finally making use of that gym membership. Reduce the risk of injury by warming up, and moderate the intensity of your chosen activity to reflect the fact you haven’t trained much during the week.