A hectic lifestyle and demanding family life are often blamed for a lack of exercise. And it’s true. For many of us, finding an hour to exercise is not the top priority in between working, feeding the kids or enjoying a social life.
But being busy doesn’t mean you have to compromise. There are plenty of opportunities to work exercise into your existing routine without giving up your precious down time.
The Government recommends that adults undertake 150 minutes (or 2 ½ hours) of moderate to high intensity activity each week. That’s just 30 minutes a day. When you break it down like that it actually sounds more realistic, especially when you consider these daily 30-minutes can be broken down into smaller time slots and easily be completed by working them into your commute.
One of the most popular forms of active transport, switching the car for a bike, is a no-brainer. You can cover large distances, you are unlikely to be affected by traffic jams, and you can pick up enough speed to get your heart pumping.
You can fit your cycling habits around your own personal preferences. Whether you want to enjoy it as a serious sport or as a casual commuter, both are great ways of boosting your active minutes.
Its popularity also means there are lots of options when it comes to equipment and clothing, including stylish outfits for the fashion conscious and suitable gear to help you get on your bike even when the great British weather isn’t in your favour. Check with your employer, many have Cycle to Work schemes in place which can help make a bike and kit more affordable.
Walk not wheels
The simplest way to increase your activity is by simply walking more. Take a brisk walk to work, the shops, playground or school a few days a week and you’ve met your exercise quota without thinking about it.
If it’s too far to walk, then compromise a little. Park your car a little further away than usual, get off the bus a stop earlier than scheduled, or simply use stairs instead of the lift.
Walking to school with kids is not always easy, especially when time is a factor. But building in a family walk to school just one day a week will significantly add to your over-all exercise target.
When you’re walking, try and pick up the pace, if you’re getting slightly warm then you’re walking at a speed that will do you some good.
Now, scooters may not be suitable for everybody – many adults may feel a little self-conscious whizzing around on what is often perceived as a kid’s toy – but they are a great alternative for those of us who aren’t bike friendly and whose commute to work is a little too far to walk.
Faster than walking, and requiring less equipment than a bike, scooters are a great compromise. You can also take a scooter on a bus or tram, so if distances dictate that you have to rely on public transport, you can still get active along the way. Scooting is also a great way to get kids interested in exercising more, without thinking their exercising!
There’s a whole range of scooters out there – with prices ranging from around £30 for a basic model to £200 plus for top of the range. They can help make your active commute more manageable, and are definitely worth considering if biking or running isn’t an option.
Running is a great form of exercise, and if you can build up the endurance to run to and from work a couple of times week, it can work wonders on your fitness.
Most offices are set up with showers these days, so it’s easy enough for you to leave a change of clothes in the office and shower once you get there.
If running to and from work is a little daunting, then mix and match your transport to support you until you feel more confident running long distances. For example, take your running kit to work and go for a run at lunch time, or get off the bus several stops earlier than usual.
You can build up your stamina by taking part in a couch to 5k course, building up your confidence in a gym, or listening to a motivational podcast. A fitness tracker will also help you track your progress, recording the distances covered and time taken, which can be a great motivation to keep going.
If you can’t get active during your commute, an hour’s lunch break is plenty of time to eat and take part in some exercise without cutting into your day.
Going for a run, or simply walking around the block, will work towards your activity goals. Or look for a gym close to work, many have 30 minute lunch classes perfect exactly for workers.
If all this sounds a little daunting, head to your local gym or leisure centre and get some one-to-one advice. Fitness experts can advise you on the right way to exercise base on your ability, age and objectives, and help you kick start your new active transport routine before you put it into practise.