Hello and Happy New Year! I wish you all the very best for 2018 and may you find happiness in your exercising! I was inspired to write this blog today after a short talk I was invited to do at my local Link4Business networking event about how to fit exercise into our daily lives.
If, like many people, one of your New Year's resolutions is to make 2018 THE year you actually get fitter and healthier then how are you proposing to make this year any different from any other year that you wanted the same thing?
The trouble is that we run out of time to do things in our lives, we're all so busy! If we're lucky, we sleep 8 hours a day. If we're lucky, we work only 8 hours a day, and if we're lucky, we commute or spend less than 2 hours travelling each day. We probably spend a couple of hours a day planning, shopping and preparing meals and then flop in front of the TV exhausted for the last couple of hours trying to get some well earned R&R. That only leaves 2 hours to go to the gym or sports club. Some of you may think "well that's still enough time .. 2 hours .. I only have a one hour's gym programme to do ..so no problem". But by the time you've factored in the what I call "faffage factor" ...i.e travelling to the gym, getting changed, showering after, getting changed again, doing your hair etc, at least 2 hours have passed! Now, I have a theory ...it's an unsubstantiated hypothesis, but go with it ... the higher the faffage factor, the lower the likelihood of the exercise session. Take my favourite form of exercise as an example, cycling. If I want to go for ride I have to get my bike out of the garage, check the tyres, chain and brakes etc, pump up the tyres usually, lube the chain and cogs, squeeze into copious amounts of tight Lycra if it's cold or slather on tons of sunscreen if it's hot. If I don't go out for at least an hour and a half, it's hardly worth the effort!
So if we can reduce the faffage factor, maybe we can find the time to squeeze some exercise into our lives perhaps? The thing is, we tend to compartmentalise our lives. At work we think "this is when I work" and at the gym, we think "this is where I exercise". But what if we could mix it up? Can we exercise at work in the office or at home? The answer is yes definitely.
Ever heard of NEAT? NEAT stands for Non Exercising Activity Thermogenesis and it's the energy we expend on activity that isn't sleeping, eating or gym/sport/exercise based. Every time you move a muscle your body expends energy, burns calories in other words. It maybe a tiny tiny amount but as a supermarket giant says in their advertising "every little helps!". I'll give you a basic example.....standing verses sitting. On average standing burns 50 calories per hour more than sitting. So if we can stand for say an extra 15 mins per hour over 10 hours (I'm making the maths easy for me here) , that's 2.5 hours standing which is 125 calories extra a day!! Just standing more! Over a 5 day working week (I'll let you slob out at the weekend), that's 625 calories, and over a year that's 32,500 calories which is equivalent to about 8lbs fat or the number of calories expended running 10 marathons!! And all because we've stood up a bit more.
Of course the reverse is also true... as we get older we tend to slow down more, sit about a bit more, maybe eat an extra biscuit or two and that extra energy appears around our waistline and we wonder where it came from? "I'm still eating the same as before" we say. Of course, the physiology is a bit more complicated than that but NEAT is well substantiated in the scientific literature. We just need to fidget more. So here are a few ideas we came up with at my networking group ...
Cue standing up ... everytime you text, or press send on an email, or answer the phone or just set an alarm on your phone.
Make your meeting a "walking" meeting.
Do some squats while cleaning your teeth.
Put music on and dance while you're cooking or cleaning the house.
Swap your comfy office chair for a fitball and have a bounce on it every now and then.
Walk up all stairs.
Sit on the floor when watching TV and do some yoga stretches.
Don't leave things at the bottom of the stairs to take up later, take them up now and do separate journeys.
If you're techy, get a Fitbit or equivalent. But don't cheat and just shake it about to register your steps!
There were lots more but incorporating more of these seemingly pointless movement tasks, will see you making a dent in your calorie expenditure for the year. Fidget your way to fitness ... now that's NEAT!
I am an exercise4happiness specialist. Forget the bikini body or the 6 pack, exercising to feel good is where it's at! Join me in my adventures in happiness, on the bike, in the studio, or in the classroom and I will infect you with my enthusiasm to get out there and be active too! You will feel good, I promise you.