How much exercise do you get in each day? Government stats show that around 1 in 3 men (34%) and nearly 1 in 2 women (42%) aren't active enough for good health. That's a real concern because exercise is a great health protector – it helps to reduce the risk of major illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
We should all aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity each week, plus strength training activities on two days. If that sounds like a lot, the good news is that even a little exercise goes a long way – the key is to get started and stay consistent.
Even 10 minutes of exercise is enough to make a significant impact on your health, and hopefully, it's a reasonable target even for those with the busiest of schedules. A small study found that 10 minutes of walking boosted participants' moods when compared to being inactive.
Where could you steal 10 minutes from? Could you wake up 10 minutes earlier or cut down on your social media scrolling time? Could you work out in front of the TV in the evening? The bottom line here is that we find time for the activities we want to do! Getting started might require a focussed effort, but once you've found your window, it's time to get moving!
No gym trip required – try bodyweight exercises such as squats, planks, lunges or burpees. Use household objects such as soup cans or water bottles instead of weights. High knees, jumping jacks, and dancing are great to get your blood pumping.
Start small and gradually increase the duration. If you've got energy to push past 10 minutes, that's great!
This one is your key to nailing it. The most effective form of exercise is the activity you do consistently – and if you enjoy it, you'll find it much easier to make the time.
Working out should not feel like a chore – if it does, maybe it's not the right activity for you. If you're not a fan of running or lifting weights don't do it, find something different, there are endless ways to move and exercise our bodies. How about skipping or hula hooping? If you love to be outdoors, why not look for some local walking or cycling routes to try on an evening or weekend?
The secret is to get in touch with what you really enjoy – that will be different for everyone. If you're an extrovert who loves meeting new people at exercise classes – go for it. If you’re more of an introvert who loves nothing more than hiking while listening to an audiobook – that’s great too!
What does your average lunch break look like? Do you grab a sandwich and eat at your desk while answering emails? While we all have days when we find it hard to step away for a whole hour, taking the time for some movement can help you clear your mind and set you up to feel energised for the afternoon. A brisk walk around the block or a 15-minute strength training session can be enough to get your blood pumping.
The daily commute is another time when we can squeeze in some activity. Walking or cycling are great options. If you can't walk the whole way, could you get off the train or bus a few stops early and walk the rest? Or even choose to stand rather than sit? If you're office-based, you've got all day to sit when you arrive at work!
With the current cost of living crisis, many people are feeling the pinch. Luckily, regular exercise doesn't have to mean signing up for an expensive gym membership. Some of the most enjoyable and effective workouts are completely free.
Walking, power walking and running are free! All you need is a pair of trainers and a little time – remember every minute you do is better than no minutes. Why not join a Park Run, it’s free to participate? It’s a great way to start – you can walk or run at your own pace, and having company is great motivation. Find a location near you.
YouTube also offers a wealth of free workout videos that you can follow in the privacy of your own home. From HIIT sessions to old-school aerobics and everything in between, you're sure to find something you'll enjoy.
So, you managed to hit your exercise target for the week – now it's time to celebrate! One of the keys to successfully building new habits is rewarding ourselves. Rewards provide a quick hit of the 'feel-good' hormone dopamine, which your brain learns to associate with the new habit – making it more appealing over time.
Think of a (non-food) treat that you would really look forward to after you exercise – maybe it’s a hot bubble bath, a massage, or half an hour spent watching your favourite TV show. Once you’ve completed your workout or activity, enjoy! Establishing an emotional association between pleasure and exercise is a sure-fire way to ensure it becomes ingrained in your daily routine.