Regardless of your shape or size, regular physical activity has been shown to add years to your life and improve its quality dramatically but believe it or not, the benefits of physical activity are not restricted to exercise performed in the gym. In fact, one of the easiest ways to improve your health may be through increasing the amount of low intensity physical activity you perform throughout the day. For example, simply increasing the number of steps that you take each day is very likely to reduce your risk of diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Although these small habits are unlikely to have a measurable effect on weight loss, it is clear that individuals who engage in high amounts of light intensity physical activity are healthier than those who do not. In fact, there is good evidence to suggest that simply reducing the amount of time spent sitting each day may reduce risk of death independently of other lifestyle factors!
So for this month’s blog I thought I would share 5 of my favorite ways to increase daily activity, these are all tips, tricks and habits that I advise my PT clients to start implementing from day one and some of them have actually come from them !
- Take the stairs as often as possible.
This one is as simple as it sounds. If you have to go up two floors or less make sure you take the stairs, If you have to go up or down a distance that is too great for you to walk at the moment, walk the first few flights, then take the lift the rest of the way. Remember, every time you take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, you are making a decision that will positively affect your long term health.
- Drink plenty of water.
This one is great for 2 reasons, firstly being well hydrated has tons of well documented health benefits, however on top of that sipping water constantly throughout the day will force you to get up more often to use the toilet! Crazy I know but 3 or 4 extra visits to the toilet can soon add up day after day!
Added bonus – staying well hydrated may also reduce feelings of hunger, so this is really a win-win.
- Park as far from the front door as possible.
Another simple but effective tactic. Whether you’re at the supermarket, work, or retail park, parking the car at the edge of the car park forces you to walk just a little bit further than you are used to. It will only add a few seconds to your trip, but if you do it every day it will soon add up.
- Buy a fitness tracker / step counter.
There are lots of options available to help track your steps these days, from £5 basic pedometer to fitness tracking watches that record your heart rate and GPS, whichever method you choose, tracking steps is a terrific way to measure the amount of physical activity you are getting each day, and can also serve as a great motivator to make the decision to walk whenever possible. Aim for at least 10,000 steps each day, but any increase is likely to bring health benefits, so don’t feel bad if you can’t get up to 10,000 right away.
- Stand up at Work
Work is a place where many of us are sedentary for hours, and the result is a lost opportunity to burn hundreds of calories every day. A stand-up desk could help change that. If you stand for an entire workday, it can help increase leg strength and endurance. A little change like standing instead of sitting can go a long way. If your workplace isn’t a stand-up kind of environment, take a five-minute break at least once an hour to engage in some activity.
Experts estimate that standing burns 50 percent more calories than sitting, so a 155-pound person could burn an extra 50 calories an hour just by getting on their feet.
Research suggests that’s habits are created from as little as 21 days repetition , so even though at first these tips might take extra thought and feel a little odd , in a very small space of time these can become as normal as washing your hands or brushing your teeth.
The 5 tips listed are just a very small selection of strategies we can use to help keep us more active and leaner overall. I would be really interested in ways that you build in extra activity into your day, so let me know in the comments !
Cheers for reading & I hope you found it useful
Till next time !