The UK government advises that if each adult aims to achieve 150 minutes of physical activity per week, this is enough to help reduce their risk of lifestyle-related diseases such as type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, with today’s society being ‘busier’ than ever, and with jobs becoming more and more sedentary than they used to be, it’s understandable why some adults may find this target totally unachievable! But fear not friends! This blog aims to help you balance your time more effectively and try help you find manageable ways in which you can easily find 150 minutes for activity each week.
The morning person
Becoming a morning exercise person may be suitable for you if:
- You have no energy after work or in the evenings
- You live in a walking/cycling distance to work
- You have too many commitments in the evenings
- Your day is filled with commuting, work, commuting + chores
- You find you are full of energy in the mornings
- You don’t like to ruin your hair and make up (because it won’t be done yet!)
- You’re too tired to realise what you’re doing!
I can hear some of you already say “nope, I know what this is about, this isn’t for me“. But for some of you, this may be the perfect solution that you have been looking for! If you’re a fan of YouTube, you may have come across those videos of ‘How to Be a Morning Person’ or ‘My 05:30am Morning Routine’. While waking up at 05:30am may be a bit of a shock to the system, I feel that their general tips on how to be more productive each morning are rather helpful, especially if you really are not a natural morning person! For example, they advise to wake up at the same time each morning, to not snooze and have a purpose for waking up earlier (to exercise and be more active in this case).
I advise to set your alarm 45 minutes earlier than usual; this would give you time to wake up, eat something small, workout and shower. In fact, you don’t even have to go to the gym! Evidence has shown that High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is just as effective than an hours workout. As long as you’re getting your heart and breathing rate up for at least 10 minutes, that’s all you need to do, even at home! If you’re short on ideas, head for YouTube and type in either ‘quick exercises’ or ‘HIIT workouts’, you’ll be spoilt for choice! Or, if this sounds too horrendous, you could simply set your alarm earlier to walk the dog or swap your usual mode of transport for a more active one, such as walking or cycling. This will allow you to go at your own pace so you don’t necessarily have to turn up to work all red and sweaty.
As the first two mornings may be difficult if this is something that is new to you, my suggestion would be to give it a try for a week, even if you only workout on two mornings. After your week trial, write down how you found the process. Was it tiring? Did it positively affect the rest of your day? Did you have more energy for the rest of the day? I invite you to comment down below on your experience.
The lunch club
Becoming a lunch time exercise person may be suitable for you if:
- You are not a morning person
- You start work before 9am
- You have commitments in the evenings
- You have long morning and evening commutes
- You need a ‘pick me up’ half way through your day
If you’re lucky enough to work for a big company, it is highly likely that there are some form of exercise clubs available to you lunch times. In my experience, I’ve seen running, walking and yoga clubs available, often for 20-30 minutes at least once a week during lunch time. If this is something that your work offer, I challenge you to go to a session and give it a go. Don’t worry, they often schedule in enough time for you to shower and have your lunch after! Otherwise, you could always eat your lunch a little bit earlier (especially if you have a desk job) before you exercise.
If there are no exercise clubs available at your place of work, another alternative is to go for a lunch time walk. You could walk to a nearby shop to grab something you need or to generally have a snoop! You could walk to or around a local park before eating your lunch surrounded by nature. Or, you could simply walk around the area to clear your head and get some fresh air outside of those 4 boring walls. Dedicating just 10 minutes during your lunch break 5-days a week is 50/150 minutes achieved already! Invite a college with you for some company or listen to your favourite podcast.
It takes more than one day to form a new habit, so I invite you to give lunch time exercising a go for a week before you form your opinion. After your week trial, reflect on how you found the process. Did this give you the afternoon pick-up you’ve always wanted? Did it positively affect your eating habits for the rest of the day? I invite you to comment down below on your experience or any tips that you picked up.
Becoming an evening exercise person may be suitable for you if:
- You are not a morning person
- You don’t have the option to exercise on your lunch break
- You have long morning and evening commutes
- You have spent all day being sedentary
- You don’t have the option to have an active commute to work
This option may be more appealing for the majority, but it may be the simple barrier as ‘having no time’ in your evening. If that’s the case, then unfortunately, you are going to have to review your usual evening routine and see what you can stop doing.
Did you know, studies have shown that the average person watches 3-4 hours of TV each day? No wonder some British adults think they have no time, they’re too busy watching TV! What about social media time too? Be really honest with yourself and ask yourself, ‘am i spending my evenings wisely?‘. Perhaps if less time was spent sitting around scrolling and watching, more time could be spent getting fit and even learning new skills!
I am sure that there are more opportunities for you to exercise in the evenings than you even realise. Gyms are open late in the evenings and these days you don’t even have to commit to a membership, you could do a ‘pay-as-you-go’ membership that fits around your schedule without any financial commitment. For those of you who haven’t stepped foot in a gym for years or are just not sure if it’s right for you, call up your local gym and grab yourself a free pass. Most gyms are very welcoming and are happy to offer a few days pass for free. This will give you time to try a few classes out, get a feel for the venue and speak to staff who can assist you in getting the most out of your workout.
If the gym really isn’t for you, consider joining a local sports club. Whether you’ve been sporty your whole life, or whether this idea terrifies you, there’s a club out there waiting for you. Similarly to a gym membership, most clubs will let you come along for free to have a go before you make up your mind. Plus, there are plenty of ‘pay-and-play’ clubs, which do not ask for any commitment physically or financially so again, this can work around you. This would be a great opportunity to get active while having fun and you may even make a new friend or two!
If you’re not interested in spending money, always remember that walking, running and cycling are completely free. Dust off that bike in the garage and dust off those trainers that have been sitting in your wardrobe for months. Studies have shown that exercising outdoors is so rewarding both physically and mentally. It can help you to become more mindful, as you watch and listen to the world going by around you. It allows you to breath in fresh air and generally be at one with nature. Research on google maps a route that suits you, try to take in a local park, harbourside or beach if you can. This really is a great way to spend your evenings and weekends.
My useful tips:
- Remember than 1 hour in the gym does not un-do the 23 hours you’ve spent being sedentary. You can still live a very sedentary lifestyle irrespective of your gym visit.
- The more minutes spent being active the better!
- Get off a bus stop or train stop earlier and walk the rest of the way
- Invite a friend with you on your active journey
- Spend less time scrolling on social media
- Keep track of your active minutes per week to see how active/inactive you are
- Use YouTube where possible if you’re low on funds
- Use apps to help you, such as a pedometer app to track your steps or a running app to help you run more productively
- Invest in a Fitbit or Apple Watch that can help to track your journey
- Join a club
- Find free gym and class passes
- Commit to being more active
- Borrow a friend’s dog or child, they always need walking!
I hope this blog has made you think more about the ways in which you can be more active. Remember that everyone is different and everyone has their own barriers to physical activity and it’s up to you to knock each one of them down with a Kung Fu kick! Commit this year to being more active and witness the physical, mental and social benefits. Please comment down below on your journey, I’d love to hear from you!
© 2019. Naomi Laws. All rights reserved.
Image: https://pixabay.com/n/girl-watercolor-photoshop-long-hair-1640047/ Author: Jills