We can get swept up in the idea that we need to ‘get fit’, which must mean spending hours in the gym right? Not so – it seems that if you want the physical health benefits of exercise, you are better off doing it ‘little and often’ – making active movement a part of your daily life, and seeing the intense gym sessions as an optional added extra if you have time.
1. Take a daily ten-minute walk
(Me walking along a canal)
2. Try ten-minute yoga videos on YouTube
Ten minutes is a great amount of time to spend on exercise – that’s because it’s long enough that you can get your heart-rate up, but short enough to squeeze into a busy day. It’s also not an intimidating amount of time! There are a ton of ten-minute yoga videos on YouTube. Yoga is great because it builds strength and flexibility, raises your heart rate, improves blood flow – basically, yoga is awesome!
Last year was a difficult year for me, and most of my routines fell apart. The one I managed to stick to, and that was key in getting me through, was my morning 10 minute yoga. Sometimes all I did was alternate between cat-cows and child’s pose – but it kept my habit of being active in the morning going. Even if I felt completely unmotivated, I would tell myself ‘it’s just 10 minutes!’ and push through. And I always felt better afterwards.
3. Go on active weekend adventures
The weekend is a chance to do something you really enjoy! There are so many family-friendly adventures you can go on that are outdoors, active and fun. Here are just a couple of ideas:
Go to the beach. Trips to the beach usually include swimming, walking, and digging in the sand – all great things to do.
Go hiking or walking in the countryside. We’re lucky to have so many beautiful national parks in the UK – there should be one within a reasonable distance to you: http://www.nationalparks.gov.uk/
Go to a museum! Great if it’s raining, museums in the UK are free entry, and you’ll rack up plenty of steps walking around the exhibits.
There are tons more – do share your ideas for active weekends with me!
4. Join a club, group or exercise class
There are groups for every sport you can imagine. If you enjoyed netball or badminton as a kid, chances are you will enjoy it now. If you’re less of a team player, try an exercise class. Try out a few different options at a leisure centre to find something you enjoy. Join a group that meets once a week – it will mean you feel committed to go, plus you’ll meet new people.
I loved Jen’s post on fun exercise (here) for some great ideas for exercise you probably never even thought of!
The class I miss the most is my karate class. It was for all ages, and plenty of families came along. I got fit and I learned some self-defence. It helped boost my confidence, and I met so many cool people!
(Photo by Kai Schreiber)
5. Turn up the music and dance!
Exercise shouldn’t feel like a chore. It should be something that brings you joy. Our bodies were designed to move, and movement is essential to our wellbeing. You don’t have to sit around thinking ‘I really need to go to the gym’. Instead, put on your favourite upbeat tunes and start dancing!
Always warm-up gently before exercising. This just means going at a gentle pace to start with, to help raise your heart rate slowly.
Always cool-down and stretch afterwards. This means slowly decreasing your pace or intensity to bring your heart rate down slowly. Stretches help get rid of lactic acid build up, which is the thing that makes you ache the day after.
Go at your own pace. If you’ve been sedentary for a long time, start with what you can manage. The important thing is to set daily habits, not push yourself to your limits.