Get away from your desk!
You may have seen the recent news that having a sedentary, desk-based job can increase your risk of early death by up to 60%. Fortunately, the researchers behind the study have also said that you can ‘offset’ this by doing at least one hour a day of exercise.
That’s all well and good, but here at the Blue Ribbon Foundation, we have two reactions to that story. Firstly, it can be hard to fit an hour in a day, particularly if you’ve got other responsibilities waiting for you at home. And secondly, even so, you don’t want to merely ‘offset’ that risk of premature death, we want to be healthier than that.
So it’s time to revisit some of the points we made in our May 2015 blog about fitting exercise into a busy schedule, as well as add new ideas into the mix!
1. It’s about your mental approach – as we discussed last year, fitting exercise in is as much about taking positive steps mentally as it is in buying a pair of running shoes, booking a squash court, or getting off the bus two stops earlier. You need to focus on the positives you will gain from the exercise, identify opportunities in your daily schedule, as well as recognise when you’re making excuses.
You can also train yourself mentally into a routine, both by setting goals and tracking your progress (plenty of mobile apps out there to help), as well as setting rewards for a job well done.
2. Change things up – it’s easy to start a new exercise routine or sport with great intentions one week, and grow bored or disenchanted the next. Part of why that happens is to do with the mental approach above, but also getting into a routine itself can soon become dull.
To combat things getting uninteresting, take 10 – 15 minutes at the start of a month to plan out a range of varied activities you could do. For example, for one week, vary your route to work so that you walk/run/cycle more of route than normally. The following week, plan out a different route, and change how you get there – for instance, try jogging for 5 minutes if you’ve been running.
In addition, think about new activities that you can do with friends or colleagues to keep yourself engaged. Like tennis? Try badminton at your nearest leisure centre. Don’t like gyms? Join your local ParkRun. Don’t really like sport? Try a dance class. Your blogger once spent 6 evening sessions learning circus skills, which was exhausting but an entirely new experience!
3. Find distractions if concentrating on exercise is difficult – nowadays as so many of us have mobile phones, we have access to music, radio, podcasts, audio books and a huge range of other interests that we can keep up with while exercising. If you struggle to motivate yourself to go for a walk or jog, you can always treat it as opportunity to catch up on your favourite radio programme, or get to the really good bit of your (audio) book. This also helps your mind associate exercise with the reward of dong something you enjoy.
4. Look for other inspiration – not just from this blog of course, but there are lots of websites out there that can give you new ideas of how to fit this in, and what you would like to do. The BBC’s Make Your Move and Public Health England’s One You sites both offer ideas and links to inspiration.
5. Don’t think you need to leave the house –
No, watching 6 hours of box sets doesn’t count as exercise, but you can combine the two. This can also help you feel that you’re not substituting your all-important leisure time for exercise. There are a multitude of free exercise programmes out there that you can find online, though check how suitable they are for your level of fitness. These will give you plenty to keep yourself busy in your own home, often with minimal to no kit required. If it takes your fancy, you can even do this with no kit on, though you’ll have to clear that with the other people in your home first…