Exercise without Exercise!

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How can anyone with kids and a job find the time to exercise? Time constraints are the number one reason most people don’t start or quit an exercise program. When life gets rough, exercise is usually the first thing to go when it should be the last. In fact, research shows that exercisers are more productive at whatever they’re doing. So instead of thinking that exercise will take up precious time, consider that exercise will actually give you more time and the energy to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

The good news is that exercise doesn’t have to involve a huge time commitment. Just moving more throughout the day would eliminate the need to spend hours and hours at the gym. On average, we expend 500-800 calories less per day than we did 30 years ago. Let’s face it, the age of technology is making us fat. Escalators, elevators, remote controls, computers, the internet,…we never have to leave the house, and if we do, we sure don’t need to walk or take the stairs to get where we’re going! Things have gotten so bad that someone has actually invented an indoor treadmill for your cats and dogs so you don’t even have to leave the couch to take them for a walk. That’s pretty frightening and down-right lazy! And what about those People Walkers – the ones where people who are completely capable of walking just stand on to get from A to B. Come on, is this what our country has come to?! People don’t realize that by using those machines to walk for you, your overall strength, conditioning & health will deteriorate so quickly that one day you may not be ABLE to walk even if you wanted to!

The moral of the story is obvious. If we just start moving more in our lives, we won’t have to spend so much time at the gym! The Surgeon General’s Report concluded that light activity equivalent to gardening, walking or performing household chores for 30 minutes every day would be enough to offer health benefits. It’s nuts that the Surgeon General has to come out and tell us to just move our bodies for 30 minutes a day. But if you think about it, most people don’t. We wake up, sit to eat breakfast, drive to work, sit at our desk all day, drive home, sit and have dinner and then hang out on the couch watching TV all evening.

Other studies have found that just 10 minute brief workouts interspersed throughout the day are better than nothing and will provide benefits. So here are some easy tips on how to increase your daily caloric expenditure without actually “exercising”.

· Are you always looking for the perfect parking spot closest to your destination? Do you sometimes find yourself frustrated or circling the block waiting for a spot to open up? Make it a goal that you’ll begin to always look for the farthest parking stall or you’ll park at least one to two blocks away from where you’re going. The calories expended will add up and you’ll find it a lot less stressful.

· Are you an escalator or elevator junkie? Have you taken the elevator up or down just one flight? Commit to always taking the stairs if you need to go less than 5 flights.

· Leave the car in the garage and walk, run, cycle or inline skate to do quick errands.

· Take a 10 minute walk before work, at lunch or after dinner. Every little bit counts!

· Schedule active outings with your family or friends. Go for a hike, bike ride, skate, or walk together. Enroll in an active family camp or register for a rock-climbing, kayaking, or cross-country skiing program. Sign up for ball-room dancing or Yoga together.

· Do a few light exercises like knee bends, toe taps, heel raises or tricep dips while making dinner or during TV commercials

· At work, get up, move and stretch every 30 minutes. It’s bad for your back to sit in the same spot for any longer than this anyways.

· Choose to stand more than sit. Choose to sit more than lie down. Try to choose the more active route of performing any daily task.

Practicing a few of these ideas will get you into better shape without putting a drain on your time bank. Remember, every little bit counts!

Finally, consider this. For those of you who feel you don’t have enough time to exercise, if you really look at your schedule, I’m confident you’ll find the time. It comes down to you making the time – making exercise a priority in your life. There has to be a compelling reason for you to want to make the time. You have to feel that you and your health deserve it. Are you going to wait for the by-pass, osteoporosis to set in or extreme overfatness before you find the motivation to start exercising? Find a reason today and you’ll find that fitting exercise into your schedule will be a lot easier than you imagined!

On that note, I’m going to ride my bike to work!

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