Become more active

How to become more active
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There are many ways that you, no matter how busy you are, can build physical activity into your lives. Being physically active is easier than you think, especially if you make activity part of your daily routine and lifestyle. In this article I am going to share with you some tips and ideas that I provide to my clients to help them become more active. From my time working as a personal trainer, I have encountered three distinct groups that approach me with ideas for making their lifestyles more active:

  1. Busy Families;
  2. Older Adults; and
  3. Workers

You might fall into more than one of the groups as many of my clients do, for instance Busy Families and Workers. The following are just some of the ideas that you can embrace to make your lifestyle more active, healthy and fun.

Busy Families

  • As a busy parent, pick days and times that you want to exercise each week and commit to them. You are more likely to be successful if you do your exercise at the same time and on the same days each week. For instance, a 30 minute run on a Tuesday and Thursday at 6pm with a friend.
  • You can divide your activity up throughout the day rather than doing it in one go. You could do two 10 minute workouts per day 3 times per week. For instance, 10 minutes at 7am and 7pm on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
  • Aim to walk or cycle any journeys that are under 1 mile e.g. to the shop, to the hairdressers, to a friends.
  • Set up an exercise group with other parents and families. For instance, you can go running, walking, pushing your buggies, swimming.
  • When doing house work, turn it into a workout (though still doing a good job!!). For instance, when cleaning the house, gardening, washing the car or decorating work up a sweat. Get the children to help you and make it fun.
  • Exercise at home because you can easily fit it around your daily routine and you do not need much time or equipment. For instance, you can do an exercise DVD or run up and down the stairs. Get the children to join in.
  • Embrace modern technology and get active and have fun with your children by playing games and sport on a Wii computer.
  • Coach a local sport team. It will be worthwhile and good exercise when training. Encourage your children to join a sports team for the exercise, for instance playing rugby on a Sunday and training on a Tuesday night.
  • Instead of watching TV, get active with your children, family and friends by finding fun activities to do that burn off calories. For instance, playing hide and seek, walking to school, trampolining, exploring woods and riding bikes.
  • Set time aside each week to go on a family walk, bike ride or swim, for instance every Sunday morning. Walking, cycling and swimming are fun and easy ways for children and you to get active. Doing a treasure hunt walk or even just messing about in a swimming pool is great fun and exercise.
  • As a family, incorporate small changes into your lifestyle to make you and your family more active. For instance, always walk up and down the stairs rather than taking the lift, park at the furthest away parking space at the supermarket for the extra walk and walk to and from the local shop.

Older adults

  • Be active around the house, for instance standing and walking while you're on the phone and dancing whilst cooking can help to keep you active and mobile.
  • Voluntary work can be a great way to become active and make friends, for instance gardening and cleaning the local park.
  • Power walking is a great way to increase your activity levels and is low pressure on your joints. Go with your family, friends or join a walking group for some extra motivation, variety and enjoyment.
  • Join a weekly exercise and leisure group where you can play a variety of sports and games, for instance, Badminton, Table Tennis and Swimming. They are great for exercise, making friends and having fun.
  • Get a great workout from gardening, washing the car/windows and house work, which involves pushing, bending, carrying, climbing and squatting (though do not injure yourself). Get friends and family to help you.
  • Take up cycling and swimming. They provide a great workout, are low impact on the body’s joints and add variety.
  • If you travel by bus you could get off one stop early and walk the remainder of the way (if you have not got too many things to carry!!) to burn off calories.
  • You can perform mobility exercises whilst sat in your chair, for instance knee bends/extensions and shoulder presses. This is great for maintaining movement.
  • Embrace modern technology and get active by having fun on a Wii computer. You can play lots of games that involve moving, bending and squatting.
  • Get a dog. This will encourage you to take it for long walks and to play with your pet, for instance throwing a ball, which is great exercise and fun.

Workers

  • As part of your commute to work you could cycle, run or walk your journey. If you cannot do the full journey, you could get off the bus one stop early and walk the rest of the way, or if you car share walk part of the journey and then get a lift. Aim to do your exercise as part of the journey you would be making anyway.
  • If you do drive to work, try and find somewhere suitable to park that is a bit further away from your work than you usually park and walk the remainder of the journey.
  • At work, walk up and down the stairs rather than using the lift or escalators, or at least get out of the lift a few floors lower and walk up the stairs for the remainder. If you do use the escalators walk up them rather than stand still.
  • Whilst talking on the telephone stand or walk rather than sit (do not walk into your boss!!) and put your files away from your desk, for instance on the top shelf, so that you have to stand up to get them.
  • Walk to a colleague’s desk, rather than emailing or ringing them, to discuss work. Aim to get up and walk around your workplace every hour to stretch your legs, for instance go for a drink at the water machine.
  • When you are sat at your desk, do a workout. For instance, sit tall in your chair and tense and relax your core muscles (front, back and side) and extend/bend your knees under the table.
  • Have your lunch away from desk and even your workplace e.g. walk to a local bench, to your car or at least to the work canteen (if you have one). Do not take your lunch and instead walk to and from the local shop/cafe to buy a nutritious meal.
  • Exercise before, during or after work. For instance, go for a brisk walk during your lunch break or as soon as work finishes, either on your own or with colleagues, or go swimming if there is a nearby pool. If your workplace has a gym (or one nearby) or a room with space in you could do a short high intensity circuit.
  • Set up a works sport team to encourage you and your colleagues to become active and team work, for instance a five-a-side football or a dodgeball game every Friday after work.

To conclude, regardless of which 3 groups you may fall into, aim to do activities that you like and that fit easily into your daily routine. Get active with friends and family to maintain enjoyment, motivation and consistency. Crucially, think outside of the box. There are numerous ways that do not cost money and do not take too much time, to get active and fit, for instance, playing with the children in the park, doing heavy gardening and walking to work.

There are many more ways that you can become more active that I would be delighted to share and discuss with you. Should you require any help, advice or information please do not hesitate to contact me.

The following website provides excellent health and fitness advice for the whole family: www.nhs.uk/livewell/fitness/Pages/Fitnesshome.aspx

Matt

Together, we’ll achieve your goals”

"My physique has changed for the better and I now have much more energy to tackle day-to-day activities. Unlike dreading trips to the gym, I look forward to every session with Matt."