As we work through the first month of the new year, it is important to keep going with the active lifestyle.
So many of us start off really strong. We get a new gym membership. We sign up for a physical trainer or active class. We design a plan that works for us to exercise within everything else in our lives.
Then the end of January approaches. Maybe some of us make it into February. Some might even manage March.
Unfortunately so many of us falter. We don’t go to the gym as much, especially if the classes finish or our meetings with the trainer expire.
In the spring, some of reboot and try again. After all summer is just around the corner.
Sometimes I think we’re too hard on ourselves. Living an active lifestyle doesn’t only mean going to the gym.
1. Exercise at work
We’ve all heard it before but there are easy exercises you can do at work.
Choose the stairs. There is no excuse (unless there are no stairs). Even if you work on the fortieth floor. Get off the elevator floors earlier. Start with one floor and every week add more.
If you do work in a place without stairs, go for a walk around the block during your break. Of course, that advice works for anyone.
Some people will go so far as to put small weights or bands at their desk. This allows some of us to do curls while talking on the phone. Make sure whatever you choose you are think manageable activity.
2. Go for a walk
While we’re talking about walking, a trip around the neighborhood can be a great way to get out. It can be an opportunity to investigate new areas, get to know people, or just enjoy the out-of-doors.
Recently, I started walking with my puppy. Even though I live just off a main road without sidewalks you can still walk safely. Wear light colored clothes, add reflector strips to the clothes, and/or walk with a flashlight (shine it to the ground). We also walk through a park area (well, cemetery), which allows safe passage.
When you’re driving home choose something to investigate. Then walk to it. Walk to the coffee shop or the corner store for your small errands.
Or choose different parts of your town/city to explore. Park somewhere or take public transportation, then walk around enjoying the neighborhood. Take a camera and photograph cool architecture or something of interest. Try a snack at a local pub/diner trying new places gives your exploration purpose. Remember if you choose food stops, choose wisely. Don’t over eat.
If you have the opportunity explore local hiking trails go for it. Maybe these are weekend adventures but it’s worth it. Getting out in nature is awesome. And walking on trails that can be uneven will help work all muscle sets.
I think walking is one of the easiest ways to exercise. You just remember to work at a good pace. Get the heart rate up.
3. Buy the Equipment
Yes, this advice can be dangerous. Many of us know that buying the equipment can be just as bad as a gym membership.
So, how do we solve the concern?
Buy small. Buy used. Buy with purpose.
Consider a yoga mat. Think about light weighs. Try stretch bands.
Remember that you don’t have to buy weighs. You can use soup cans. There are a few other ways to avoid buying the equipment by using stuff around the house.
However, my experience is having the equipment at home and set up give you a place to exercise. Yes, that’s right try to keep the materials organized but available.
You don’t need to buy the huge equipment. Especially, if it folds up – too easy to fold and forget about it.
Also, consider visiting a second-hand store, like Salvation Army for used equipment that isn’t full price. Less guilt when it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Stretching every day is one easy way to get your muscles going. Work from head to toe. Hold each stretch for a 20 count. Repeat the stretches 2-3 times.
As an aside, note that we used ‘hold’. It’s important not to bounce. It’s also important to push the stretch to the point it actually stretches. As the weeks go by, you might be able to stretch a little further or add a very light weight to help tone the muscles.
This light activity will give you 20-30 minutes of muscle work. It isn’t strenuous on your body, but it helps get the muscles, bones, and joints working. It will help keep the fluids in the body flowing and nerves working.
Stretching really should be done before and after any exercise. Light stretching around exercise helps to get the muscles you’ll be using full of blood and nutrients before and clean out the energy used at the end.
But stretching can be just as useful as an exercise on its own. Yoga and pilates use a lot of poses that are basic stretching – just proving how important the movement of muscles is.
5. Think about everything you do
A lot of times we forget that the moving we do are all exercise activities.
There are many websites that will give you more details about calories burned for activities you do anyway. Activities like vacuuming, dusting, washing floors/windows. In the summer, working outside is a great way to get exercise in without considering your actually doing exercise. Mowing the lawn, pruning the trees, pulling weeds, etc are all great activities.
It’s ok to sit and relax, but don’t spend too much time on the couch.
Find ways to be doing things. Spread out the little projects that need to be done around the house throughout the week to keep you active.
Sometimes the answer isn’t spending tons of money on gym memberships that we’ll stop using halfway through the year. Sometimes it’s important to think about small ways you can be active within your lifestyle.