It’s one of those unanswerable questions: when did life get so busy? Because of our hectic schedules, exercise is so often relegated to the bottom of the to-do list – to be tackled as a New Year’s resolution, or after you return from holiday, or after you’ve cleared out that garden shed... Just a few minutes of physical exercise each day has an enormous benefit on your physical and mental health, increasing your energy levels and brightening your mood. So whether you’re working hard or enjoying a jam-packed retirement, here are some suggestions on how you can fit fitness into your life:
Get those legs moving
Make good use of staircases. If you work in an office, always choose the stairs over taking the lift. If you’re at home, don’t use the downstairs bathroom – walk upstairs instead. Rather than automatically reaching for the car keys, a gentle stroll to the shops provides you with a welcome breath of fresh air while getting the heart pumping. If you take the bus, get off one stop early, and walk the extra distance. Even better, why not cycle?
Find a regular, organised activity you enjoy, such as a dance class, yoga, tennis or golf, and sign up with a friend. You’re more likely to commit to getting fit if there’s more than one of you to answer to, and together you can share the experience, making it a keenly anticipated social event. If you have children or grandchildren, initiate a friendly game of football or chase around the garden. This is fun for all the family and you’ll barely notice it’s a form of exercise!
There are countless exercise DVDs available – and downloadable apps, for those smartphone and tablet addicts out there – so there’s no excuse not to burn off some calories in the privacy of your own home, to your own ability and your own timetable. Even just five minutes of stretches takes no obvious time out of your daily routine but may have a noticeable effect on your waistline. Try incorporating exercise into your downtime: even while watching TV you can make good use of ‘wasted’ time during adverts to simply march on the spot. Finally, try secret sit-ups while sitting at your desk or queuing at the checkout. Hold in your stomach for a count of 20 and then release; repeat this five times. No one will notice, as long as you remember to keep breathing…
Home and body makeover
Turn housework into exercise. Put on some energetic music, suck in your stomach, and then zip round the house with a hoover and a duster. Next, flex your arm muscles and commit to a quick session of kitchen or bathroom scrubbing. The faster you complete your chores, the more physical effort you’re putting in. Plus your surfaces will gleam – what’s not to like?
Introducing fitness into your lifestyle and following a healthy diet can help you lose surplus pounds. A healthy diet can also help you lower blood cholesterol, which is a risk factor in the development of heart disease.