The stresses of modern life have made it difficult for most of us to get enough exercise. Rather than getting our recommended dose of 3 to 4 30-minute moderate-intensity sessions per week, we end up hunching over our computers for hours on end or staring at our smartphones on the morning commute. In turn, our health inevitably pays the price — prolonged inactivity and periods of sitting can increase your risk of diabetes, heart disease1 and back pain2.
While setting aside a full hour each day to hit the gym may seem impossible given the busy schedule, you can still get your daily dose of physical activity by incorporating exercise into your daily routine. Let us illustrate!
7 a.m.: Rise and shine
Often waking up with a stiff neck or aching lower back? That sets the wrong tone for the rest of the day. To prepare your body for the day, begin your morning with some simple stretchings like shoulder rolls, torso twists, toe touches, planks and warrior pose3. Remember to take deep breaths and tighten your core for maximum results.
8 a.m.: Getting to work
If you live near your workplace, why not walk, jog or cycle to the office? Sure, you might have to set aside shower time and wake up half an hour earlier, but you’ll get to work feeling refreshed, invigorated and accomplished!
For those who live further away, you can still exercise during the morning commute. Instead of taking the elevator, climb the stairs. Climbing a flight of stairs burns off 15-20 calories on average4, just multiply that with the number of floors you are climbing. If you’ve reached work a little early, why not do two stair climbs? Those early morning emails can wait!
12:30 p.m.: A well-earned break
You’ve made it to midday. Instead of gorging yourself on a heavy meal, have a healthy lunch packed with fiber, complex carbohydrates and protein, then go for a walk. A brisk walk boosts your metabolism by up to 15%, ensuring all those calories from lunch are put to good use rather than heading straight for your waistline. Regular walking can even lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease by as much as 50%5.
7 p.m.: Evening exercise
After a day’s work, the temptation to sprawl on the couch and watch TV is often strong. But this is your last chance of the day to burn some calories and make progress towards your physique goals — so don’t waste it. Spend your evening doing some household chores. Take out the trash or walk the dog. And when you are finally in front of the TV, try walking on the spot, doing crunches or calf raises while you watch your favorite show for some added exercise!
- Wilmot EG, Edwardson CL, Achana FA, et al. Sedentary time in adults and the association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease and death: systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabetologia. 2012;55(11):2895-2905.
- Back pain at work. NHS Choices. Visited 12 June 2014.
- ACE’s Top Ten Reasons to Stretch. American Council on Exercise. Visited 12 June 2014.
- Stairway to health. University of New Mexico. Visited 12 June 2014.
- Walking is great exercise too. Walk 4 Life. Visited 12 June 2014.