The problem with getting more exercise always seems to be that it takes so much time. Who has the time to go off somewhere for an hour a day? Perhaps you make a schedule with the best of intentions, and you stick to it for a week or two, and then you have to make an exception... and another one... and soon you're not exercising at all.
Well, guess what: you don't have to go off somewhere for an hour at a stretch. Ten minutes here and ten minutes there of even just moderate effort can add up to considerable health benefits – and make good habits that are easy to keep. You'll know you're getting reasonable, sustainable exercise if:
- your heart is beating faster than usual, but it's not racing
- you're breathing faster than usual, but you can still carry on a conversation while exercising
- you're warmer than usual, but you aren't dripping with sweat
Here are some ways of adding exercise to your day:
- Walk part of the way to work – get off a couple of stops before your usual stop, or park a bit further away. Make sure to walk at a brisk pace.
- Take the stairs, not the elevator.
- At the office, get up and walk over to talk to someone rather than phoning them.
- Park on the far side of the parking lot when going to the mall – or walk or bike instead of driving.
- When you're cleaning around the house, turn on some music and make a dance or a sport out of it.
- When you're sitting at your desk, exercise your stomach and back muscles by tensing, holding, and relaxing them.
- Whenever you walk anywhere for any reason, walk faster – you'll get better exercise (and you'll save a little time).
Keep track of how much exercise you manage to squeeze in – you may be surprised at how easy it is to get 60 minutes every day. Need more time in order to fit in some more exercise? Try getting up 10 minutes earlier. Or watch less TV – much of the time, people watch TV just to fill time. Why not fill some of that time with exercise instead? You can improve your overall relaxation as well as your health by skipping just one sitcom in favour of a brisk walk or run.
And why not take part in some sports as well? Skiing, biking, swimming, or team sports such as hockey and soccer – you can burn off 80 calories in just 10 minutes, or work off the equivalent of a dozen pancakes or more in a day of skiing! Sports also have additional benefits: team sports can be fun for the social aspect as well as for the exercise, while individual sports can be a great way to get away from everything and de-stress. Just think about sports or other activities you haven't done in a few years that you used to enjoy doing – why not get into one or two of them again? Or why not try something new that you've always been curious about?
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