The lazy person’s guide to getting (a bit) fitter

New research suggests that 20 million Britons need to get off the sofa and do more exercise – or risk an early death. Here are five ways to do so without too much effort   The trouble with health warnings – the latest of which comes from the British Heart Foundation, suggesting that 20 million couch potatoes are risking an early death – is that they seem so abstract. How do you go from knowing you should exercise more, to actually doing it? Especially when you still have flashbacks to school sports day humiliation, or worry that the solitary pair of shorts in your wardrobe may no longer fit.   Walk more Just get off your bum and on your feet. It sounds obvious, but research shows that walking can reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and more. As soon as it becomes habitual, you won’t even consider it as exercise – just try and do at least 30 minutes a day. Get off the bus early and catch up with a podcast or immerse yourself in an audiobook and time will pass much quicker. If you hate walking alone, Walking for Health has an online group finder.   Do it in intervals Sometimes people feel they need to set aside hours to feel the benefits of exercise. But scientists have long extolled the virtues of short, hard workouts. A study from McMaster University in Canada comparing health markers for a group doing longer, steady workouts with another doing short, intense ones showed virtually identical gains. A sample session on an exercise bike would be a gentle warmup of five minutes, then 30 seconds of all-out cycling four to six times, with a four-minute easy pedal between the efforts. Though you do really have to make those 30 seconds count …   Excerpt from The Guardian, read the full article here.   Exercise is good for you – physical activity halves the risk of developing heart disease.   Including more exercise each day will help you to manage stress and increases happiness, self esteem, fitness levels and reduces the risk of diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, osteoporosis and cancer. The human body is designed to move and there is no doubt that moving more and sitting less is good for your health.   Recommendations It is recommended that you exercise on most days of the week and build up to 30 minutes+ or 10000 steps (if you have a pedometer), at an intensity which makes you feel slightly out of breath and that you perceive as moderately hard. If you are concerned about your health in any way always consult your doctor before starting exercise. If your interest is to improve fitness then it is important to incorporate stretching and strengthening exercises and follow a more structured programme.   Top tips to become more active
  • Move more and sit less each day
  • Set yourself a daily target – e.g. 30 minutes
  • Fit activity into your day
  • Have walk and talk meetings
  • Commute in a healthy way
  • Move your body position every 60 minutes
  • Join a gym/class/walking group for support
  • Find an exercise buddy
  • Involve family in activity
  • Plan sessions in advance
  • If you miss a session, try to get back on track as soon as possible
  In the home It’s convenient, comfortable and safe to work out at home.
  • Work in the garden or mow the grass. Rake leaves, prune, dig and pick up trash
  • Go out for a short walk before breakfast, after dinner or both! Start with 5-10 minutes and work up to 30 minutes
  • When walking, pick up the pace from leisurely to brisk
  • Choose a hilly route
  • When watching TV, spend a few minutes pedaling on your stationary bicycle
  • Walk or bike to the corner store instead of driving
  At work What can you do to increase your physical activity during the work day?
  • Walk and talk
  • Walk and talk rather than using the telephone/email
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift. Or get off a few floors early and take the stairs the rest of the way
  • Stay at hotels with fitness centres or swimming pools while on business trips
  • Schedule exercise time on your business calendar
  • Walk around your building for a break during the work day or during lunch
 

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