The demands of modern life can make it difficult to find time to be active, especially if you have a family to care for or work in a sedentary job. Embarking on a new, demanding fitness journey can be daunting and many people put off making a change as the prospect seems impossible.
Instead of committing to a drastic change and setting unrealistic expectations, why not try and implement these 10 small steps to help achieve a more active lifestyle? They are super-easy and almost anyone can incorporate these changes into their daily life, without a huge sacrifice.
Increasing your physical activity can help reduce the risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke and even some forms of cancer. Not only are there countless physical benefits, being active can help boost mood, energy levels and self-esteem as well as reduce stress and ease some symptoms for those with mental health struggles.
- Park further away or get off the bus/train 1 stop earlier
This is one small change that will only add an extra 5-10 minutes on to your existing journey, but will make a significant difference over time! Not only is this an easy way to get more steps in, it could even be more convenient as parking may be cheaper further away or your new train stop may be quieter or have a better coffee shop.
- Incorporate a walk into your lunch break
More and more people are enjoying the benefit of a lunchtime walk during the working day. Going for a walk is still classed as cardio and is hugely beneficial without being too intense, so it is perfect for beginners. Not only will your lunchtime walk get you away from your desk, it has also been found to boost mood, creativity, productivity and energy levels. It’s a win-win!
- Try a new gym or fitness class
One of the biggest life-hacks to being more active is finding an exercise or class that you enjoy. Many gyms and studios offer a huge range of classes meaning that there are plenty for you to try to find one that suits you. From yoga to spinning to barre or even clubbercise, you will never know which is right for you until you try! Many companies also offer free or discounted trails for your first visit. Once you find an exercise you genuinely enjoy, it becomes so much easier to prioritise your activity. You could even make some new friends along the way.
- Split your activity into smaller segments
This change is perfect for anyone who feels like there are not enough hours in the day. You may struggle to find a free hour to work out or even 30 mins but you will probably have smaller chunks of time available throughout the day. Why not break your activity up into smaller segments? You could do three 10 minute mini-work outs instead of one longer activity and it has been found to be equally as beneficial.
- Try a free online workout
You can find an endless supply of home workouts via YouTube or other video sites that are completely free to use, with a huge variety of exercise styles and duration. There is no travel time required and you can complete these workouts in the comfort of your own home! This is a great choice for beginners who feel intimidated at the idea of joining a busy gym or may feel self conscious starting their journey initially. Once you have built up your confidence, you could then explore in-person classes as the next step.
- Meet a friend for a walk
Next time you make plans to catch up with a friend, why not swap dinner or a coffee shop for a walk in the park? Not only will you both experience all the health and mood-boosting benefits of some light exercise, it is completely free. You will also probably walk much further than you realise while you are busy chatting to each other and catching up on life.
- Invest in a pedometer or fitness watch
Pedometers and fitness watches can allow you to track your physical activity which may give you an extra boost of motivation to get your steps in or enjoy some exercise during the day. You don’t have to shell out lots of cash on high-tech, expensive watches as there are cheaper options on the market or your smartphone may even have a step-counter - it is definitely worth checking out!
- Set small, realistic goals to start out
Investing in a fitness watch or pedometer and tracking your activity can make it easier to set goals. For beginners, start small and make sure the goals you are setting are realistic. If the idea of 10k steps a day seems out of reach, start out with 3k and gradually increase the amount when you feel comfortable. You will feel a sense of achievement when you reach your goals and starting small means you won’t find the task too difficult and be tempted to give up before you reach them.
- Try a fitness app
There are many free or paid apps available that offer lots of different workouts and tracking tools. Some of the most popular include Couch to 5K, Map my Run, Workout for Women & many more. Some apps even allow you to connect with other users and share details of your workout - ideal for celebrating a new PB with your friends online!
- Suggest an organised fitness activity in your workplace or amongst friends
If your workplace or friends don’t already participate in a fitness group, why not make the suggestion? You could propose the idea of a Saturday morning running club with your colleagues or a Yoga workout in the park with your friends. By creating a ‘club’, you may feel more capable of completing your physical activity due to exercising part of a community rather than as an individual. It also creates a great support network, strengthens social relationships and provides some much-needed motivation - even if everyone taking part is a complete beginner.
There you have it - 10 small changes that you can make in your day to day life which could have a huge impact on your physical activity and overall health. Kick-starting your journey is sometimes the most difficult step in becoming more active so starting with these small tweaks can allow you to build your confidence and work towards your long-term fitness goals without being overwhelmed.
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