With our increasingly busy lifestyles typified by long commutes to work and extended working days, the idea of trying to shoehorn time for physical activity into your daily routine can be very challenging. For many people the idea of engaging in an exercise programme after a long busy day in the office or at home is not too appealing. All you want to do is get the kids to bed and flop on the settee in front of the TV with that frozen pizza!
Clearly for physical activity programmes to lead to enhanced health fitness and well-being they need to be sustainable in the long-term and not prove to be a burden on your scarce time resources. The simplest solution is to try and integrate physical activity into you daily routine be it at home, in the office or during leisure time. Here are some handy hints which may help:
- Exercise early in the day before breakfast. You are more like to do it then than in the evening. It also gives you a positive mental outlook for the day ahead and allows you time to plan your day.
- If dropping the kids to school, park the car a little distance away. You will find parking easier plus you take in some exercise.
- Share the housework and stick on some music while you do it – it’s a great way to combine exercise with the dreaded chores!
- Working in the garden, be it cutting the grass, sweeping leaves or digging, is a great from of exercise. It also gets you out in the open air.
- Be kind to the environment. If you need something from the local shop walk or use your bike rather than take the car.
- If you take the bus or train to and from work get off a stop or two earlier and walk the rest of the way.
- Ask your boss to promote a healthier lifestyle at work by fitting a shower and changing facilities work. This may encourage you to walk or cycle part or all of the way to and from work. A fitter and healthier work force is a more productive one!
- In stead of taking that morning coffee break step outside for 10 minutes – it helps clear the head.
- Walk to a work colleague’s office rather than use the phone to speak to them.
- Go for a walk or run at lunch time and grab a sandwich rather than heavy lunch. Save your main meal of the day for the evening.
- Brainstorm some ideas with a work colleague while taking in some lunch time exercise. You will kill two birds with one stone and the time passes quicker.
- Enter an office team in an organised recreational activity such as tag rugby or 5-a-side soccer league.
- Join a fitness centre near your office and work-out either before or after work. That way you miss the rush-hour traffic.
- Use the stairs rather than the lifts of escalators.
During Leisure time
- Go out of the front door, turn left or right and walk for 10-15 minutes (you need to get home again!).
- Go for a walk with your partner or a friend – it gives you to interact and socialise.
- Engage in active play with the kids. That way you spend more quality time with the family as well as getting fitter.
- Exercise in front of the TV – buying an exercise bike might be the answer (you can also use it while reading).
- Do you really need that ride on lawnmower to cut the grass? Buy a push one instead.
- If you play golf walk briskly between shots, carry your clubs or use a non-motorised trolley.
Dr Giles Warrington is Head of Department and Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Physiology at the department of Physical Education & Sport Sciences at the University of Limerick. View Giles’ profile here