If you wish you could improve your fitness and be in better shape, you’re in good company. More than 75% of people feel that being in shape is important. And why not, being in better shape gives you more energy during the day, makes you stronger and maybe even makes you look better. It also goes without saying that people with higher fitness levels have a lower chance of getting disease and dying early.
Despite this, very few of us exercise regularly. Less than one third of people get 150 minutes of activity per week. That’s less than half an hour per day. Not a huge amount by any means.
In order to improve your fitness, you have to do more than you’re doing now. There’s no way around it. Our body only improves fitness if we stress it more than we do now. So if you walk three times a week, you’ll need to either walk longer, more often or faster to improve your fitness.
But what do you do if you don’t like exercising?
You’re not alone. I exercise daily but I’m not a fan of exercising for the sake of exercising. Sure I enjoy how I feel after exercising but I prefer to do what I call “stealth exercise”. This is when you’re exercising but don’t even realize you’re exercising. You’re being active for some other reason than exercise. Essentially, you’re multitasking.
Here are five ways to get you exercising without really knowing you’re exercising:
1. Active Commuting
Whether it’s school or work, we all have to get somewhere on a regular basis. Why not walk, run or bike (or rollerblade or skateboard)? People who actively commute have a lower chance of getting cancer, heart disease and dying early. Plus, if you live in the city, getting to work by bike is usually faster than driving. Even walking may be faster than taking the bus. With no parking or gas to pay for, it also saves money.
If you don’t live close enough to walk or bike all the way, try breaking up your commute. Whether you take the bus or drive the car, you can always get off the bus earlier or park further away and finish the rest of the way on your own power. Many buses now have bike racks, so you can bring your bike with you. Even a small amount of active commuting is better than none.
2. Spend time with family and friends
Getting together with family and friends is a great way to be active and spend some quality time with each other. It could be a family game of soccer, or with the neighbours. Going for a walk, hike or other outing with friends makes the time pass by more quickly, and you won’t even realize you’re exercising.
Exercising with others also builds in support and accountability. You’re less likely to back out of your workout, or team game, if you know others are waiting for you. You also have a great support group who can encourage you and keep you going. Likewise, you can provide the encouragement and be the role model to others.
3. Run Errands
Most of us take our car to run errands, but I’m suggesting you actually run (or walk, bike, etc) to do your errands. Leave the car behind. It has the same benefits of active commuting. Now not all errands will lend themselves to walking or biking. But with a little planning you’d be surprised how much you can accomplish. Add on a bike rack and panniers and you can fit in a week’s worth of groceries.
If you do have to take the car, park further away. This is often the first spot you see. You’ll usually get to the door faster than if you circle around finding the closest spot. Or you can park in a central area and leave the car in one spot. As added exercise, use the stairs instead of elevators or escalators.
4. Exercise Your Alone Time
We can all benefit from some alone time. Even if you’re the most extroverted person around, spending some time alone is a healthy part of life. This time allows you to relax your brain and recharge. The time alone can be liberating as you let your mind wander. Even as little as 20 to 30 minutes can help clear your thoughts and refresh you.
Exercise can help as it gets you thinking about something else instead of the worries of the day. It’s like clearing out your mind of all the baggage from the previous days and gives you a positive outlook. Plus the release of serotonin and endorphins that occurs with exercise can make you feel even better.
5. Hang out with Fit People
Ever been told you act just like your mom or you dad? While some of it may be genetic, certain actions or expressions you use are usually learned. These are behaviours you pick up just be being around people. The people you hang out with play a role in influencing who you are and how you act. You and your friends may dress and talk alike. If you move to a new country, you’ll likely pick up a new sayings and maybe a new accent.
The same goes for exercising and improving your fitness. If you want to get in better shape, hang out with people who exercise regularly. This is a golden rule about change; be with people you want to be like. This doesn’t mean you have to get a new set of friends. It can be as simple as joining a club, attending group exercise classes or even going to the gym regularly; you’re bound to see the same people and may make new friends. Not only will their behaviours rub off on you, you can also gain from their experience and support.
Improving your fitness does mean exercising but with some easy planning, you can use your exercise time to accomplish a range of other of daily life’s activities and get in better shape.
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