“Exercise” is an emotive word. To many, it means sweaty sessions in the gym, team games down the local park or long runs on dangerous, unlit roads and so is distinctly unappealing! Compartmentalising it in this fashion gives us the perfect excuse not to do anything because it’s OK to say “I don’t have time to go to the gym”.
There are two important points to get across here:
1. General “activity” is vital. The health benefits of a physically active lifestyle are well documented and there is a large amount of evidence to suggest that regular activity is related to reduced incidence of many chronic conditions. The latest Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England 2013 report (read it here www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB10364 found that 32% of men and 60% of women were not even fit enough to sustain walking at 3 mph on a 5% incline. That’s pretty shocking and not good news for the NHS, already buckling under the extra work due to obesity.
2. If you specifically want to lose weight (see our article Don’t think “I want to lose weight” – think “I want to get fitter” if this is you) you’ve got to remember that it’s pretty damn hard to lose lots of weight through exercise alone. True, you don’t see many fat marathon runners, but think how much exercise they do each week…out of the question for most of us. It’s also almost impossible to “target” fat reduction through exercise alone, so forget the “flat abs in 10 days” headlines. Remember that the muffin you had with coffee today will take several hours to “jog” off!
Whilst there are people who regularly go to the gym and are pretty fit, to most of us, exercise should just mean activity.
The key thing is to replace the word “exercise” with “active”…don’t worry about going to the gym, just get more active. Remember, you’ll gain the most benefit just by starting the process!
So, before you go and drag on those old running shoes, think basics:
If you are sitting down all day, don’t! Get up for 5 minutes every hour and walk around (or stay and your desk if at work and do some leg bends and shoulder rolls).
Sit up straight, with your shoulders back and neck tall.
Always take the opportunity to walk, and walk briskly to get your heart rate up and your breathing quicker.
Never take the lift and always walk up escalators.
Never just do nothing! Use your odd minute or two to do something energetic…even if it just some stretches.
Plan your day so that you find an extra few minutes to do some of the above and then congratulate yourself.
Once you’ve been doing this for a few weeks, go a step further and try a more vigorous activity.
Start thinking like this and your lifestyle will change. If you do it at the same time as working on your eating habits, then you WILL achieve your ideal weight and get fitter.
A WIN WIN!