When you’ve spent most of your adult life sedentary, the thought of suddenly having to start exercising is daunting to say the least.
You’ll always have the option to take it easy at MAN v FAT Football sessions if you feel that you can’t manage a full game. We’ve all been there, and everyone will understand, so never feel as if you must push yourself.
But it’s always a good idea to try and boost your activity levels anyway, as being inactive is linked with being overweight, type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer and even early death. Here are a few ways you can sneak more activity into your life.
Take the stairs
Your first instinct is to take the escalator. It’s there, it’s easy and it’s quick, so why wouldn’t you? But making the effort to climb the stairs instead can really pay off.
It’s a quick burst of exercise that’s great for building your leg strength – and taking the stairs at the station can help to wake you up in the morning if you take the train to work.
Instead of watching TV for hours on end in the evening, try going for a walk (even if it is a short one around the block). Go with a friend for a catch-up or spend some quality time with Spotify as you walk.
Either way, even if you’re only out for half an hour, it breaks up the evening and means you get some much needed activity in.
Ditch the car
Get used to making walking your first mode of transport wherever possible. If it’s a 5-minute drive away, do you really need to take the car?
Of course, there will be times where it’s not practical to walk, but if you’ve got time to spare and it’s a manageable distance, try and walk it.
...or park further away
A parking spot right outside the shop is the holy grail, but parking further away will ensure that you’re forced to get in a little exercise, and you won’t get caught up in the frustrations of trying to beat other drivers to that perfect spot.
Make active plans
When meeting up with your mates, if you’re anything like us your first thought will be to head to the pub.
At the risk of coming off as a bit of a square, why not suggest something a little more active? Go for a walk together or try an exercise class, play golf or tennis or even go bowling.
Sitting too much is bad for our health, and studies have repeatedly shown that sitting or lying for too long can damage our hearts, make us more prone to dementia and increase our risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The NHS says that many adults in the UK spend 9 hours a day sitting down, which is a lot.
The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend that you should regularly break up lengthy periods of sitting by getting active for 1-2 minutes. And you can get up and move for a max of 2 minutes, right?!
So get up and stretch your legs, walk to the kitchen to make a drink or go and have a conversation with a colleague face-to-face instead of sending an email. Just make sure you’re moving regularly.
Get an activity watch
If you’re a competitive sort or motivated by stats, you can boost your activity levels by investing in an activity watch to track your steps throughout the day. The general recommendation is that we aim for 10,000 steps a day, but any increase on your current activity levels is worth celebrating.
There are a lot of ways of tracking your steps. You could get an app like Pacer (find it for iOS here, or for Android here), or Google Fit (iOS here, Android here), both of which track your steps, or you could go for a simple pedometer which tend to be cheap (and very basic), like this one.
On the other end of the scale, you could go for an activity watch like a Fitbit (we like the Versa, though there are many different versions to suit every need) or really push the boat out and get an Apple Watch, which bills itself as the ‘ultimate device for a healthy lifestyle’.
Don’t think of getting active as an all or nothing thing. You don’t need to suddenly start working out for hours on end – it’s unrealistic and if you’re very unfit you’ll do more damage than good. Start small and make easy lifestyle changes and you’ll be surprised at how much it can improve your fitness.