Hello everybody! Welcome back to my blog. The purpose of this blog is to help people find their way to a healthier lifestyle. I mostly talk about exercise and its science, which is my area of expertise, but I also talk about nutrition, sleeping habits and many other subjects related to wellbeing and healthy lifestyle.
A few weeks ago I shared a post about how many people use the lack of time as an excuse to avoid doing exercise, or to justify why they don’t reach their goals. Have a look at it!
Today I would like to give you a few ideas for you to easily increase the amount of physical activity you do every day without having to lock in your schedule an hour of gym or half an hour of running.
But first, let’s do a little exercise. Consider a working/school day. Imagine that you have slept 8 hours, worked for another 8 hours, plus 2 hours for all your meals, 1 to 2 hours to go to work and back. Adding up these numbers, you get 4-5 hours for you and your social life. If you spend 2 of those hours with family and friends, you get 2-3 hours for you. This could be your time to do exercise and do other things for your self-care, but there is always something happening: someone calls us, there is a new season of your favourite series on Netflix, we need to catch up with our Instagram or Facebook or TikTok, and all of a sudden the day went by. This is a pretty average day in any “first world” person’s life so, how can we fit some physical activity in a day like that?
- Walk more.
Whenever possible, leave the car at home or avoid going by public transport. Many studies have shown how much our health improves when we start walking more every day, and people who walk regularly have a longer, healthier life. If you live and work nearby, walk to work, if you have to run errands, walk unless you need to pick up heavy stuff, if your workplace is far away from home and you need to go by car, try to park a bit further away and walk the rest of the way, or if you have to catch the train or bus, take off one or two stops before and walk the rest of the way.
- Clean the house or look after the garden.
Have you heard about ‘The Blue Zones’? Gianni Pes and Michel Poulain have investigated and identified five places in the world in which people live longer and healthier lives than average. These places are Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Ikaria (Greece), and Loma Linda (California). Some of the common factors between all these areas is a plant-based diet, the capacity of unwind, sharing times with people they love, and the vision they have of physical activity. Unlike we have been always told, the long-living peoples of these areas don’t go to the gym or run marathons, their secret is as simple as going for walks to visit each other, cook their food using their hands, look after their gardens, or keep their houses clean and tidy. The average person may burn up to 200 calories per hour cleaning the house, and 300 calories when gardening, so if your goal is to lose weight and you hate running, look after your house and garden! In my post FITNESS MYTH NUMBER 4: RUNNING IS THE ONLY TYPE OF CARDIO I debunk the myth that we must run to do cardio. Have a look at it!
- If you’re a parent, join their fun!
Is parenthood what is holding you back from doing exercise? You cannot afford hiring a nanny to look after them while you’re at the gym? I have really good news for you: playing with kids is a great way to do exercise. A study from Harvard Medical School found that engaging in moderate play with kids for about 30′ an average adult can burn around 150 calories. Run after them, climb a little hill, pick them up and lift them above your head, come on, you are doing a great CrossFit session when you play with kids! Not to mention how much they will appreciate it and you for doing that with them. Kids love sharing playtime with mum and dad, and I cannot think of a better way to bond with them.
- Include a fun physical activity on your day off.
I have highlighted the work fun because it has to be something you enjoy. It’s amazing to join a gym or a fitness club, but just if you enjoy what you do. Doing physical activity shouldn’t be a nightmare, but rather another part of your day that you’re looking forward to. I can imagine how difficult it is for someone who hates doing exercise to use their day off to do it. Nonetheless, there are always other activities you can do and enjoy, while you are sharing your time with the people you love. Go for a bush-walk, go for a swim at the beach or swimming pool, join a group class, play a team sport with friends, go to a ninja warrior gym. Last Friday, I went with Harry and some friends to through axes. It was a lot of fun, and my shoulders are still sore!
The benefits of lifting weights and going for a walk or a run are indisputable, and as a professional in the fitness industry I encourage you to include resistance and cardio training in your routine, but it doesn’t need to be the way we have wrongly been told. In fact, if you sit down the whole day and go to the gym for one hour every day, you are considered sedentary!
- Check your screen time.
Take a minute now and have a look at your screen time. I bet it’s not less than 2 or 3 hours per day. Whereas sometimes we need the phone for work or to communicate with our family, don’t you think it would be interesting if instead of spending 1 or 2 hours checking your social media on the phone you go for a walk with the same people you are trying to contact online? We justify our phone usage because we are living the era of technology and (mis)communication, we are scared of missing out, but in reality all we are missing out is real life. Are you one of those who see life from the phone camera? One of those who see people exercising on YouTube instead of actually get some exercise done? One of those who keep many online friends but barely hang out with the people they love in person?
Enjoying real time is one of the things that the people from the Blue Zones do. Sometimes we get caught up by our gadgets and all the emotions that come from their use (dopamine rushes when someone likes a picture, cortisol increase when we have too many messages to reply to, disappointment when someone leaves us in read) and we don’t enjoy what is around us. Technology has brought us many positive things, but it’s also taking away our time, including the time we don’t spend doing exercise.
- Light exercises between other activities.
Sometimes is way simpler than it may look. Every 60 or 90 minutes, stand up, have a little walk around, do 10 bodyweight squats and 10 push ups, activate your body a little bit. This simple exercise routine takes less than 5 minutes but it makes the difference between being completely sedentary and have an active lifestyle.
If you want to find out more about what the people from the Blue Zones do to live such long, healthy lives, have a look at this article in their website!
That’s it for today! I really hope that you enjoy it, and it inspired you to include a little bit more of physical activity in your busy life! If you like what I do and you want to support this project, follow me on Instagram and Facebook, like the post and comment. Feel free to contact me on my email to propose a subject, give me a feedback, or ask for an advice: firstname.lastname@example.org