–by Ferah Merani–
Our bodies were built to move yet so much of our culture forces us to spend so much of our time seated. In cars, at desks, in transit, at tables, you name it. We all know the benefits of exercise for both the body and the mind, so saying that you don’t have the time to get moving is no longer an acceptable avoidance tactic. Perhaps it’s not a matter of making excuses and you truly don’t have the hour and change to take an exercise class. But if you find that you’re talking yourself out of it more than talking your way in, something’s gotta change.
The old adage rings true, every little bit counts. Starting with something small to get yourself moving will inspire you to keep at it because it’s so simple. Sure it will take a slight shift in the way you think about fitness, plus a dash of creativity and some planning, but the benefits are so worthwhile you’ll be amazed at how little time it actually takes to make a big difference. And once you make a habit of it, you’ll wonder how you ever did things before.
Here are 7 strategies to sneaking in some activity into your day:
Wake up Earlier
Sounds simple, doesn’t it. Just wake up an hour earlier, go for your run/class/workout and get it over with. Cross it off the list of things to do today and continue on with your day. Easier said than done if you’re a sleep lover. But consider this, you can reset your sleep schedule by simply getting yourself up and going regularly, so you don’t need to skimp on your slumber. There’s always the option of going to bed wearing your workout gear so you’re ready to go right away. But that may not be the most comfortable way to sleep…
Stretch in Bed
As a personal trainer, one of the first things I encourage my clients to do is stretch in bed before even getting out. Of course, if you have a partner lying next to you that might prove to be a bit more difficult, but the principle is the same: Before doing anything else (except maybe going pee), limber up your body by doing some expanding stretches like spinal twists, lunges and side bends. This will open up your joints, loosen your muscles, and awaken your sense, preparing you for the day ahead. Yogis have a similar age-old principle for welcoming the day with a salutation to the sun.
Stretch before Bed
At the end of a long day, your body will carry a buildup of tensions, traumas, and tightness. It’s unavoidable, as even the simplest daily activities like standing, walking up stairs, and sitting all day, affect the state of your body. Why take all of that compounded stress to bed with you?! The simplest gentle stretches will help release and relax your body, preparing your body and quieting your mind for a restful sleep. Chances are, you’ll sleep better, which in turn will make waking up earlier even easier!
Maximize your Lunch Break
Step away from your desk and take a walk or hit the gym. You’re guaranteed to feel better about your productivity, and will likely be more productive, positively reinforcing the habit. Further to that, you’ll be less likely to uncontrollably chow down at your desk and even be compelled to start bringing your lunch from home because you won’t have time to stop by the food court.
Maximize Your Workout
Unless you’re a high intensity athlete training for a very specific purpose, there’s no reason you should be spending more than an hour at the gym. Doubling up on exercises saves time and challenges your body in different ways. Instead of just running on the treadmill, go for a brisk walk and add some light hand-weights. Start by doing some bicep curls as you walk to get your coordination and balance sorted. Once you feel comfortable, integrate some reps of shoulder presses and tricep extensions. Do this 2-3 times a week and watch your upper body transform.
Nothing to motivate you more than being accountable to someone else. Make date night with your partner an evening stroll through the park instead of dinner and a movie. Team up with your pals and join a weekly sporting club. Instead of just grabbing a coffee with your best friend, suggest going for a run or a yoga class first. Not only will you get your daily dose of physical activity, but you’ll be able to bond in a completely different setting.
Eliminate ‘Couch Potato’ from Your Lexicon
With the surge of on-demand streaming and the resulting binge-watch culture that’s developed, it’s easy to make a permanent dent in your sofa watching episode after episode of your favourite shows. Rather than make it a passive activity, give yourself a series of intervals that you can do while watching. Do jumping jacks for the opening and closing credits. Alternate between push-ups, lunges, squats and sit-ups for an entire episode and you’ve got yourself a full-body workout with entertainment.