Sedentary workers take about 2000 steps a day yet they say that 10,000 should be our aim for good health.
While you can dispute that we actually need to do that much exercise to stay fit, more walking can only do us good.
Ten thousand steps is about 45 minutes worth of walking a day. That’s not a lot but finding that spare time is a problem for most of us.
If you want to walk but you just can’t take 45 minutes out of your busy schedule to go for a long walk, try these ways of fitting more walking naturally into your life.
1. Go Further
Walk to the furthest coffee machine, photocopier, bathroom and sandwich place so that you take a few extra steps each time. And park in the space which is furthest away from the front door. If you use public transport get off a stop earlier.
2. Walk and talk
Walk around while you are on the phone. (Cordless or cellphone)
3. Get a Dog
You will have to walk more to keep your dog happy.
4. Don’t Wait, Pace
If you are waiting for a train, a bus or a friend move around rather than standing in one place. And try this at home too when you are waiting for the kettle to boil or the microwave to cook your food.
5. Take the stairs every time
Every step counts so shun the elevator and find the nearest stairwell.
6. Walk before breakfast
A 10 minute walk before breakfast will set you up for the day and boost your metabolism. Set your alarm clock a little earlier and just do it.
7. Be Sociable
Combine walking with your social life. Meet friends for a walk at weekends rather than a drink or a meal. If you enjoy country walks join a walking club. Plan active outings for your kids or make a walk after dinner a family tradition (start when the kids are young!)
8. Shop Locally on Foot
Instead of taking the car to the store once a week, support the small shops in your area and buy your food fresh every couple of days.
9. Have a Lunchtime Walk
Instead of eating at your desk, get out and about. It’s great to clear your head for the afternoon too.
10. Get a Pedometer
A pedometer will let you see how many steps you are taking and encourage you to take a few more each day. Start just by measuring how many steps you take in a day and then aim to increase the number by 20% each week until you reach 10,000.
The most accurate pedometers are digital such as the ACCUSPLIT AE170 Pedometer which accurately measures distance and calories burned as well as steps but if you’re not worried about being very accurate you can you can also get very cheap pedometers costing only a couple of dollars (these make great party presents).
Although you may have an overall goal to get fit, remember that fitness is not just a target but something you want to maintain in your life forever.
It’s not as if you want to run a marathon and then retire to couch-potato land forever (well at least I hope not) so fitness goals need to be looked at a little differently from those you might have for your career or finances.
Once you have reached a reasonable level of fitness with your initial goal “to get fit”, you may want to set a goal to reach a higher level or you may just want to set standards for yourself.
You don’t have to strive to get fitter and fitter unless you have really got the fitness bug. But if you don’t challenge yourself regularly, you will lose the level of fitness you have reached.
Standards could be things like
- I will work on strengthening my muscles for twenty minutes three times a week
- I will walk at least 30 minutes every day
- I will practice yoga 5 times a week
- I will eat 7 portions fruit and vegetables a day
- I will try a new activity every month
- I will find a dance class I like and attend twice a week
The difference is that standards type goals never end – though you should review them regularly to make sure they are taking you where you want to be.
Keeping up standards can be just as challenging as working on improving fitness and in some ways you need to be even more motivated to keep this up as you will not be seeing so many dramatic positive changes in how you look and feel.
Maintaining a log can help with motivation – you’ll be able to see in black and white how well you are sticking to your standards when you mark off what you do each day.
1. Plan Ahead
Always have your exercise kit ready and available. Have enough workout clothing so you can get a fresh kit together right after your workout while you’re still feeling good about having gone out for a run or to the gym. And keep it in a handy place at home ready to grab and go or store it in your car trunk so it’s always with you.
2. Follow a Program
Follow a work out program which is suitable for whatever stage of fitness you have reached. If you follow a pre-designed program you never have to think about what to do today – it’s all worked out in advance. If you are more experienced, you can create your own workout plan making sure that you don’t go too far too fast to avoid injury and over-training.
3. Get the Intensity Right
Use a heart rate monitor in conjunction with your program to ensure you are working at the right cardio intensity. You will also be able to follow your progress by seeing a reduction in your resting heart rate and the rate for any particular cardio exercise as you get fitter.
4. Schedule Your Exercise
Make an appointment with yourself as if you had a personal trainer turning up and expecting you to be ready to work out. Write it in your diary and schedule the rest of your life around your exercise sessions so that you make time for them.
5. Stay Healthy
Good food, plenty of sleep, proper hydration and avoiding cigarettes and too much alcohol and will make the job of keeping fit a lot easier than if your life is filled with late night booze sessions and junk food. If you do feel ill, give yourself a break from exercise and don’t force your body to work when it needs rest and recuperation. You’ll get back to full strength a lot faster.
Have more fun working out so that you’ll be motivated to get out there and do it more regularly!
1. Choose a Sport or Activity you Love
Why go to the gym if you hate the gym? Choose an activity which appeals to you and give it a go. When you’re ice-dancing or rock climbing, skiing or playing tennis exercise just happens and doesn’t seem like a chore.
2. Make Exercise Part of Your Social Life
Find a workout partner you enjoy spending time with so that you look forward to getting together for a run or gym session. Just don’t get so carried away and chat so much that you forget to work out! If you usually get together with friends for a meal or drinks see if you can persuade them to do something active instead. Baseball anyone?
3. Enjoy Nature
Exercise is often the only time we adults get fresh air. Make the most of your work out time by taking yourself off to the great outdoors. Find a local beach, park, lake or hill where you can work out and enjoy the wonders of nature at the the same time.
4. Feel the Movement
While you exercise, focus on your body as it moves through the air – sometimes you can feel yourself almost gliding. Feel the pleasure of the movement itself – your muscles working in a co-ordinated way, the efficiency of your body’s cooling systems, how you heart and lungs work together to send oxygen to your muscles. Imagine you had been confined to a tiny cell for weeks on end or hospitalized in a full body cast and feel the joy of now being able to move your whole body.
5. Look the Part
Treat yourself to some new workout clothes you look forward to wearing. You’ll be more comfortable and enjoy working out more in gear that is made for your sport.
An ipod filled with your favorite music can make the difference between a boring workout and one you enjoy. Talking books are another alternative. If you exercise at home or at the gym choose a time when you can watch a show you love on TV whilre you work out. You’ll never notice the time.
7. Set Yourself a Challenge
Don’t see exercise as a chore but as a challenge. Always log your workouts and set goals for yourself every week, every workout. Don’t push yourself so far that you risk injury but make sure that you are always progressing and moving one step ahead.
Fitness Goals image by Dale Gillard
Having a goal to get fit is all well and good and many of us decide that we’d like to do that.
This seems to be the case particularly around January 1st when we are replete with festive food and fat and also as summer approaches when we realize the layers of winter clothing will no longer be hiding the evidence of our neglect.
But what does getting fit mean exactly?
What are you aiming for when you say you want to get fit?
- Do you mean you want to be able to run for the bus without going red in the face or to be so fit you can run a marathon in under four hours?
- Are you looking for cardio fitness or muscle definition? flexibility or bulk?
- Do you really just want to lose weight and get in shape and think getting fit will help?
You see there are as many types of fitness as there are types of people and your goals should match what you are trying to achieve.
For this you need to know why you want to get fit
It helps your motivation to have a precise vision in mind of what you are aiming for when you think about being fit.
What exactly will be different when you achieve your goal ?
- What does getting fit look like?
- What does getting fit feel like?
- What will you be doing differently when you are fit?
Only once you know why you want to get fit and what exactly you are aiming for can you start to work out the steps you can take to actually achieve your goal to get fit.
Sometimes kids soak up so much time that it’s difficult to find time for fitness – you end up having so little time for yourself that working out can be the last thing on your mind.
But if you are determined enough, there are ways to carve out bits of time here and there so that you can be as fit as your friends who don’t have family responsibilities.
I remember writing about a tip a while ago that I thought was a good idea – and on Saturday I tried it out (yes, I do follow my own advice – well, at least most of the time 🙂 )
My 10-year old had an hour-long tennis lesson in the morning and instead of taking him and waiting around with the other parents reading the newspaper and drinking coffee, I dropped him off and then went for a run.
I got my work out done. He had fun. I felt very productive…
You do have to be a bit more creative if you have very small children – there seemed to be years when all I could do was to snatch a few minutes exercise at home or to walk and walk for miles pushing a baby in the stroller.
But it can be done – so don’t give up! And it’s great to be setting your kids a good example.
And remember you can always get my Fitness in No Time program if you only have a few minutes a week to work out 😉
Push ups image by Urban Mixer
Push ups are a great exercise because they use your own weight to build strength. You can do them anywhere – whether you’re stuck at home with the kids or out on the road travelling – you don’t need a gym or any equipment.
And they strengthen and tone your whole body engaging muscles in your chest, hands, arms, shoulders, back, stomach, legs and feet – and probably a few other places as well.
But the classic push up everyone is familiar with is not an easy exercise to do correctly.
You have to build up to that.
Wth that in mind, fitness trainer Funk Roberts has created a push up challenge page to teach everyone to master the perfect push up without props or problems.
He has every stage of push up perfection covered from beginners who push against a wall to intermediate exercisers who use a modified form of push up (the knee push up) to a more advanced level ready for the perfect push up.
You just have to find the right place to start for you and not go too fast too soon.
Funk’s blog post lays out a push up training program to take you from beginner to 10 perfect push ups in 8 weeks. This should be possble but your results may vary 🙂 In any case you’ll get there by progressing through the stages one at a time.
If you ever wanted to be able to show off perfect push-ups, Funk’s page is a great place to start.
If you’re a regular reader here, you’ll know that I run but I’m not always so keen on doing it.
When I’m outside and actually running I don’t mind it too much – and sometimes I even think I’m enjoying it for a brief moment – you know, the fresh air, the feeling of being alive, the great views around my usual running routes in Edinburgh.
But sometimes getting out there is a bit of a mental struggle.
When that’s a problem I often use a trick I got from Time Management and motivation expert Mark Forster. He got himself to exercise every day by having a goal of simply getting out of his front door with his exercise gear on.
That’s all he had to do.
If he got out there and didn’t want to do any more he’d still met his exercise goal for the day.
Of course once he’d taken the trouble to get ready and get out there, he found himself actually running.
But it helped him get over the mental block of having to force himself to exercise. It suddenly became a choice.
If you’re having problems getting yourself to exercise regularly – give this a try and see if it helps.
Fitness Motivation image by ggvic
Although motivation is at its highest when you introduce a new fitness program, you need to fight the urge to get over-enthusiastic when you begin a new workout routine or sport.
I know that sounds a bit counterproductive but there is method in my madness.
If you go all out to reach your limits and do too much too soon:-
- you will feel the negative effects first – over-tired aching muscles and potentially injury
- you are going to find long and frequent workouts and training sessions more difficult to slot into your life when you weren’t doing so much before
- you are more likely to drop out within the first few weeks as it all becomes too much for you
Give yourself a chance to get used to your new fitness regime and make your new exercise a habit before you push yourself too far. Feel the benefits and then expand your reach and you are more likely to make it a long-term activity.
So do the beginners program even if you think you are moderately fit. Do two sessions a week rather than three. And let yourself want to do more rather than less.
Photo by twenty_questions
Anyone who has ever climbed to the top of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris or the Statue of Liberty in New York will tell you that stair climbing is not an easy exercise but you have to admit it’s something that you can easily fit into your everyday life.
Stairs are everywhere and you may as well make use of them.
In fact, keen exercisers in cities as far apart as Boston and San Francisco are starting to use skyscraper stair-climbs as their workout of choice – a 15 minute stair climb offers the same workout as 30 minutes running on flat ground and with less impact.
Even those of us without access to a nearby skyscraper can benefit from the stairs at the office, in the home or at the shopping mall. Every flight you climb counts – a Harvard University study found that men who climbed an average of at least 8 flights a day had a 33% lower mortality rate than men who were sedentary. And research in Northern Ireland has also shown that walking upstairs for just 6 minutes a day will make you 10 to 15 percent fitter.
Climbing stairs will firm your butt, your legs and your stomach – one reason why stair climbing machines at the gym are becoming more popular and why they are taking off as home exercise equipment. Just look at the range of stair climbers and steppers you can buy these days. They take up less room than a treadmill and don’t sound like a jet engine taking off in your basement or spare room – well worth considering if you are looking for home equipment.
But even if you don’t have a gym membership or space for a stair climber at home, you can integrate stair climbing into your day. Just remember when you see a sign for the elevator to look for the stairs instead and get firm and fit without taking up your precious free time.
And if you are looking for a new home don’t look at stairs as a disadvantage – that top floor appartment may be just what you need 🙂