Written by Josh Horsman
The vast majority of us, if we’re being honest, could be more physically active in our daily lives. If you're reading this, it's probably because you recognise this and want to do more. If that’s you then well done! Acknowledging we could be more active is easy, but most people will never actively do anything about it.
Why Be Physically Active?
People of all ages can benefit from being physically active in their daily lives. It prevents weight gain, improves mood, helps us sleep and makes us more energetic. But for those in midlife and beyond, staying active is especially important.
Staying physically active in your daily life helps to maintain your muscles and cardio-respiratory system, enabling you to stay mobile and independent for longer into old age. A healthier body also means a stronger immune system which can protect against illnesses and diseases which we become more susceptible to as we age. Scientific research has also found that our physical health is linked to the health of our brains and that by exercising more, we can actively reduce our risk of cognitive decline and conditions like dementia.
As we get older our bodies are typically less cooperative to exercise than they might have been in our youth and that means that many older people live predominantly sedentary lives. However this is neither a necessary or healthy way to live, in fact it is possible for just about all of us to lead active lives. Even if you’re not currently exercising regularly, with a step-by-step approach you can slowly but surely build regular physical activity into your daily routine.
Here’s our guide to being more active in your daily life:
Small First Steps
The following are some ways in which you can be more physically active in your daily routine without significant effort and without making any drastic changes to your lifestyle. You should consider these suggestions the first steps on your journey to becoming more physically active.
1) Take the Stairs!
Sure escalators or elevators might be quicker, but climbing stairs is a great way to burn calories and get in a quick workout with minimal effort. Best of all, if you develop the habit of always choosing the stairs you’ll be getting more exercise every day without even noticing!
2) Walk while you talk
Next time you’re on a long phone call for work or speaking to family, try pacing the room while you talk. Once you get used to doing it, this can be an ideal way to stay moving at work or get in some extra steps, you’ll be surprised how much of a workout one conversation can provide!
3) Buy a pedometer
Costing as little as $20, a pedometer is a much easier investment than a gym membership! Wear one daily as you go about your routine and track your steps each day. This will help focus your mind on keeping moving and give you motivation to beat your ‘step count’ each new day!
4) Do Some Chores
Believe it or not, doing a couple of hours of housework or strenuous gardening is actually great for your fitness! Why not give your garden a makeover or commit to some home renovations or even just a spring clean?
5) Get 8 Hours of Sleep
When you aren’t well rested, everything feels like more effort than it actually is. In a sleep-deprived state, it’s often difficult to summon the energy to do the things you must do like go to work or run errands. That’s before you even get started on the things you ought to be doing like exercising. If you commit to getting a full 8 hours of sleep no matter what, you’ll find yourself more energized, focused and productive. This is guaranteed to help you get through everything you must do in your day and still leave you with enough left in the tank to work out too. Developing a consistent sleeping pattern will also help you to rest and recover more fully between your workouts, which will in turn improve your performance and strengthen your muscles.
Increase Your Activity
Once you’ve followed the first steps and slowly integrated more physical activity into your daily routine, you should find you start to feel fitter and more energetic. When you’re ready and, if you’re serious about being more active, it’s time to be more deliberate in taking time out of your day for fitness.
1) Walk to Work
An obvious way to start your journey to a fitter, more active lifestyle is to ditch that bus or car journey and rely your own leg power for your daily commute. Not only will you notice radical differences in your general fitness in just a few weeks, you’ll also no longer be at the mercy of delays or traffic jams. Of course, this might not be possible for everyone, but if your workplace is simply too far away to reasonably walk, why not invest in a bicycle? You can enjoy all the same benefits and gain an extra tool to enhance your fitness routine.
2) Get your Family Involved
Get your whole family involved in the pursuit of health by taking brisk walks after breakfast or dinner. Even if it’s just a quick stroll around the block, 15 minutes of walking every day can make all the difference and help you to keep moving, plus there’s all the benefits of being out in the fresh air! Involving your family will also help give you people to be accountable to in your journey to becoming more active.
3) Join A Gym
If you struggle to think of new ways to stay active, joining a gym could be exactly what you need. Most gyms are full of endless pieces of equipment to help you vary your workout and keep things interesting. Moreover, if you’re paying a membership fee every month, you will have an incentive to visit regularly and make the most of your investment!
4) Workout with Others
Staying active is easier and more fun when you’re part of a community. If you like to workout in a gym, find a workout buddy to accompany you on your visits. Or, if you don’t have anyone to exercise with, why not join a sports club or take a fitness class!? It’s much easier to be motivated when physical activity is combined with a social incentive, sports clubs and classes are great ways to meet new people and have fun. When you work out in a group, sometimes it doesn’t even feel like a chore!
For more ways to stay active every day, including workout plans and fitness tips as well as nutrition advice and more, try the free MindMate App.