February is The British Heart Foundation’s Heart Month – raising awareness and money for heart disease. We all know that exercise is important for a healthy heart, joints and generally keeping well. But with the best will in the world, many of us find excuses, ‘I’m too busy… the gym is too expensive… i’m too tired’. But what if exercise didn’t take so much extra time, money or mental commitment? Below are 10 ideas to help you more easily integrate exercise into your daily life. And what’s more, I will personally donate 10p to the British Heart Foundation* for every person who reads this article.
So that’s 10p I’ve just donated on your behalf!*
1. Cycle to work
This will save money, give you a good daily workout and is better for the environment. Too far to cycle? Then try it once or twice a week, or cycle to a station near you, pop your bike on the train and cycle at the other end. (Check with the train company for any cycle restrictions though). You may also be able to get a tax break on a new bicycle through the government’s cycle to work scheme. Tip: try doing the route on a weekend when you are not in a rush so you know where you are going.
2. Walk at work
If you have a desk-based job, make the effort to walk over to talk to people you need to speak to, instead of always sending an email or calling them. This is great for networking and relationship-building as well. Or take a stroll at lunchtime. So many of us don’t take enough breaks, and we are usually less-productive, less healthy and more likely to have low back pain because of it.
3. Take the stairs
Try to take the stairs instead of using the lift or elevator. This is a no-brainer and takes pretty much the same amount of time. If you are really going for it you could try running up the stairs. Tip: if you have painful knees or arthritis, going downstairs is often worse for you than going upstairs. Listen to your body and stop if it makes your pain worse.
4. Borrow a dog
This is not a joke! BorrowMyDoggy.com matches 1000s of dog owners throughout the UK with ‘borrowers’ who can take their doggies walkies once or twice a week, or even have a doggy to stay. All the fun of a pet without the commitments, and what better excuse to go for regular walks. Brilliant idea! Insider tip: for those local to Warwick and Leamington Spa, I did a quick search and there are at least 20 doggies ready to sniff you out!
5. Even better, borrow a guide dog
If you live near Leamington Spa or one of the other guide dog training schools, you could have a guide dog come and board with you. You would need to drop the dogs off at ‘school’ each day, but at weekends you get to hang out together and go for walks. This is a great idea to have access to a pet, help charity and keep fit! See Guide Dogs for the Blind for more info.
6. Go on an ‘active’ date
Instead of going for the old faves which involve sitting down all evening (pub, restaurant, cinema), why not occasionally get active and do something different? Find something you both enjoy or try something new. Here are a few suggestions: swim and sauna, walk to a restaurant you’ve never visited, go out dancing.
7. Don’t be late!
Maybe not so good for the stress levels, but if you leave things until the last minute, then you can pretty much guarantee you will be doing some jogging to make up time. Just make sure you aren’t in heels! Joking aside, why not use short journeys, like to the local shop as an opportunity for a gentle jog?
If you have young children
You may feel like exercise went out the window the day you had kids, but it doesn’t need to be like that. Here are some ideas…
8 Exercise when your kids do.
If you take your children to sports classes, use that half an hour to get fit yourself. If they are on the playing field – you could jog or walk round the edge. If they are swimming, ask the pool if they run lessons at times when parents can swim in part of the pool during the lesson. Some organisations such as Kids Run Free, even involve parents in their races.
9. Dance around the house
Clear a space and go crazy! Kids love seeing their parents ‘get their moves out’ (well until a certain age anyway). Do some star jumps, shake your butt – anything goes in the privacy of your own home!
10. Go for family walks or bike rides
It’s a fun way to teach kids the benefits of exercise, spend some quality time together and see new places.
Over to you…
Do you have any tips or tricks to integrate exercise into your everyday activities? You can add them to this list by leaving a comment below. If you have enjoyed this article, please like or share it. Thank you!
*For each person who clicks on this article between 3rd-10th Februay 2015, I will make a 10p donation to the British Heart Foundation to a maximum of £40.
Emma Lipson is Principal Osteopath at Feel Better Osteopathy in Warwick, Warwickshire..