There’s nothing like a little spring fever to motivate us to get up and active. The dark months of hibernating on the sofa with a packet of crisps are long behind us and spring, the season of new beginnings, is here.
That said, with pressing work, family and social commitments, it can be hard to find the time to develop an organised fitness plan. The good news, however, is that there are plenty of easy ways you can integrate exercise into your day-to-day life. Here are 10 of them:
1. Do some spring cleaning
It’s a great way to shake off those cobwebs, both from your house, and your body. Fitbug exercise specialist Nicky Lawson says “this is a great workout if you push yourself while doing it.” Whether you’re cleaning behind the oven, hoovering the stairs, or moving furniture to get at those rarely-dusted corners, any vigorous exercise that gets your heart rate up, counts.
2. Have a power lunch
With the weather warming up and the sun finally starting to show its face, there’s no time like the present to supercharge your lunch break: “Use your lunch break to go for a walk,” suggests Savyell. Researchers at the University of Bristol even found that those who went for a walk at lunch reported better time management, interpersonal and concentration skills in the afternoon.
3. Shop ‘til you drop
Stocking up? Make the most of it and walk to the shops and back. Carrying those groceries back is guaranteed to work your core and your arms, too. “Close the online shopping tab – every step counts!” says Lawson.
4. Just HIIT it
Want to burn calories, fast? HIIT is the way to go, according to experts. Lawson recommends keeping it short and sharp: “Try to get a 15 minute HIIT workout in first thing in the morning to get your metabolism up and running.”
5. Make the most of the ad breaks
Commercial breaks often seem to make up half the time we spend watching television these days, so why not make the most of them? Fitbug exercise specialist Sylvester Savyell says: “While watching your favourite TV programme, spend the time during the ad breaks powering through some simple body weight exercises, such as sit ups, push ups or planks.”
6. Get dancing
Who says the gym is the only place you can get your cardio fix? A 2016 study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that people who danced regularly had far better heart health than those who didn’t and were less likely to die from a cardiovascular disease. If you struggle with motivation to work out during the week, commit to an evening dance class instead.
Whether you’re into street dance, ballet, or you see yourself as more of a salsa person, there’s bound to be a beat that gets your heart going and your feet tapping.
7. Challenge yourself
Want to get toned for the summer? Savyell recommends taking up a body weight challenge that you can do at home:
“Make it a priority to start some sort of exercise challenge, such as a squat or push up challenge. On days 1-4, do 5-10 reps; on days 5-9, do 10-15; on days 10, 15-20, and so on.”
8. Get out in the garden
No time for yoga? If you’re feeling stressed out, getting your fingers green could help reduce your blood pressure, according to a study published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Struggling at work? A 2015 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Occupational Therapy also found that taking up gardening helped improve self-reported decision making skills, concentration span, and even self-worth. Now if that’s not a reason to hit up your local garden centre, then what is?
9. Go walkies
There’s a reason they’re called man’s best friend. Science confirms what dog lovers have known for years: taking the dog for a walk is as good for your health as it is for your four-legged friend’s. A 2016 study published in the Gerontologist found that regular dog-walkers had a lower BMI and visited the doctor less often than those without dogs. According to Rebecca A. Johnson, PhD, director of the Research Centre for Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine, walking your dog regularly could even lower your cholesterol.
10. Make it fun
“Get the whole family involved in getting fitter” suggests Lawson. If you’ve got children, “dust off those bikes or scooters and get the whole family out for a bike ride or trip around the park.” Alternatively, take your friends to the park for a game of football, or Frisbee.