We’ve asked fitness expert and personal trainer Nicola Addison to give us 3 easy life-hacks for upping your fitness game without having to put aside time – or money! - for the gym.
1. Cycle to work
People often discuss the benefits of exercise without thinking about the environmental factors involved. By this we mean exercising outside is better for you than you could possibly imagine. Not only are you working your muscles, you’re upping your vitamin D levels, getting some fresh air and giving your mental health a boost, too.
Bike riding is incredibly different to indoor cycling or spinning, which involves a stationary bike in a sweaty gym environment! Cycling on an unknown terrain which challenges you to react accordingly to sharp turns and traffic lights whilst taking in the scenery really does take your mind of the stresses of day-to-day life and allows you to focus on the moment you’re in as opposed what lies behind or ahead.
Cycling to and from work is the perfect way to fit in some outdoor activity and it means that when you collapse on the sofa after a tiring day at the office, you don’t have to feel guilty about not getting up again.
2. Set some goals
Unless goals are written down, they are often just a dream. Goal setting is a sure-fire way to keep you motivated and improve fitness, but the majority of us set goals that are just too high.
Increasing the number of steps you do per day is a great place to start when you’re increasing your daily activity levels, and we all completely underestimate the power of walking. It’s good for your heart, your head and your wallet and anyone can do it at any age or fitness level. A report by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support that looks into the benefits of walking shows 150 minutes of moderate physical exercise every week could save 37,000 lives each year and lead to almost 300,000 fewer cases of type two diabetes (1).
If you reach your recommended steps per day far too easily, then all you need to do to improve your fitness is increase the number you aim for per day. That way you’re adjusting slowly and not leaving yourself open to disappointment when you don’t reach an unrealistic goal.
3. Be realistic
When it comes to setting goals a lot of our motivation stems from how we look and, whilst in small doses this can be good for your confidence, it’s important to remember that when you’re working out – you’re aiming to be the best that you can be from a health and wellbeing point of view.
Setting realistic body goals that focus on your health as opposed to aesthetics will point you in the right direction. Your body is a miracle that has mechanisms for dealing with every little test life has to throw at it. We can do our best to keep it ticking along by eating healthily, staying positive and doing 150 minutes of exercise per week, but we should also do our best to remember that it’s worth a lot more than what people see from the outside.
And it’s not just pilates, long runs and sweaty gym sessions that will make a difference to your fitness. Take the stairs instead of the escalator during your next shopping trip, fit in a few squats whilst you’re brushing your teeth, run on the spot next time you’re watching television or run around with the kids next time you take them to the play-park. These are all tips for fitting exercise into your daily routine that don’t involve spending money or eat into your spare time. That leaves plenty of time for a bubble bath and some relaxation…both of which are just as important as exercise!