How many of us have made New Year's resolution after New Year's resolution to “finally get into shape”, “lose 10 lbs by summer”, or just to become a healthier you all around. In today's day and age, we are becoming more and more health conscious, and luckily this is leading us to finding new and innovative ways to approach our health goals. With so many options and new fitness paths being offered, it can sometimes feel completely overwhelming to even know where to begin on your fitness journey. This is why I’m here to tell you; there are some SIMPLE choices & additions you can incorporate into your regular daily routine, which will immediately help improve your health & fitness . Not only will you begin seeing the healthy changes you’ve been searching for, but it will without a doubt kick start your motivation to accomplishing even bigger fitness goals that you may not yet have known you had. Hell, you might even actually be able to check that New Years resolution off the list this year!
1. Take the Stairs
Well you’ve probably heard this one before, but like they say - if it ain't broke don’t fix it. This little tip has been around for decades but it’s also tried and true for a reason. Not only should you choose the stairs instead of the elevator, but just choose ‘by foot’ in general! Walking to get your morning coffee always feels better than driving - especially when it means skipping the search for parking. You might even enjoy the sweet-smelling flowers along your route or bump into an old friend you haven't seen in years. Walking has been proven to improve cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress. Moderate exercise like walking also helps protect against dementia, peripheral artery disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, colon cancer, and even erectile dysfunction. Seems like there are too many benefits to adding a few steps into your day for us to ignore.
2. The MMW (Mini Morning Workout)
Trust me, I love my sleep as much as the next guy, but waking up 30 mins earlier than usual to get in a mini morning workout can literally change the course of my entire day. There’s no better feeling than starting the day off with a 20 minute run or quick set of cardio exercises. Knowing I’ve already gotten in a sweat and flexed my muscles before breakfast makes me pumped to tackle the rest of my busy day. And it may seem like the most daunting task right now, but believe me when I say that it gets easier with repetition. According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. Eventually you won't even have to think about it - you'll just hear that alarm, jump from pjs into fit gear and before you know it you’ll be out the door headed to the park’s running track or hitting the living room with your squat and lunge sets.
3. What Lunch Break?!
Ok, ok, just kidding, we ALL need our lunch break, but what are you really doing for that 60 minute break? Yes, we need to nourish our bodies, and detach from the work day, but who’s telling us what we can and cannot accomplish on our break. With so many virtual fitness classes and platforms out there nowadays, why not schedule in a 35 minute session using your favorite fitness app or website. Health is literally at your fingertips, and it’s truly up to you how you use it. Even doing this a few times per week can improve your health & overall happiness. New research published in the Journal of Happiness Studies finds that doing any kind of physical activity for as little as 10 minutes out of your week can significantly improve your odds of feeling happy. And I personally guarantee your lunch will taste even yummier after burning a few hundred extra calories before chowing down!
4. The Moving Meeting
Speaking of being at work, more often than not, many of us are stuck sitting at a desk for approximately 8 hours a day! But we can change that by finding ways to be active while still being a badass boss at the office. Not only can we walk over to drop those files at our boss’ office ourselves, but we can also schedule walking meetings with our colleagues/clients. Why not take a walk around the block while discussing the weekly reports, or next month's big deal? I watched a TV show recently where a woman had a treadmill attached to her desk… kind of genius. I’ll let you know when I figure out where to purchase one in real life.
5. Get a New Toy!
Are you a (baby or dog) mom or dad? Well it might be time you invest in a jogging stroller or a good strong leash, because it’s time to get your heart rate up while doing something you’d be doing regardless! Taking the lil babe or pup for a nice jog will burn some calories, is good for your heart, and still allows you to get in some quality time together. According to the American Heart Association, jogging is a vigorous-intensity physical activity. To achieve vigorous intensity, your target heart rate should be 70 to 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, which is calculated by taking 220 minus your age. Who said simple math would never come in handy later in life?!
6. Power Chores
No matter what, we all have chores around the house that need to get done at some point or another. Whether it’s cleaning your car, washing the dishes or tidying up your entire apartment, we know this can sometimes feel like a daunting & time eating task. Why not make it fun and get some exercise while checking off items on that “to-do” list? Throwing some music on and dancing your way through your chores will make the time pass quickly, get in some extra exercise and allow you to potentially enjoy yourself. This sounds like a triple win to me!
7. No Couch Potatoes
While vegging out in front of the TV is one of my favorite things to do after a long work day, I’ve gotten into the habit of doing a set of crunches & push ups before relaxing and binging my favorite new series on Netflix. It’s one of the easiest ways to distractedly sneak in a few extra exercises to your day. Why not enjoy your favorite show or movie while being productive & enhancing your health at the same time?
8. Go to a Comedy Show
Wait...what?! How does this affect your fitness you might ask?! Well it sure does, because laughing burns calories - yes that’s right, you enjoying yourself watching a comedian, funny movie, or even hanging out with your silliest friend can help you get fit, not to mention put you in a better mood. A 2014 study in the International Journal of Obesity found that laughter can burn calories by determining that those who laughed during their movie viewing burned up to 10 calories in 10 minutes, as compared to those who did not laugh and did not burn any calories. This is only one benefit, as laughing is also known to calm pain, decrease stress hormones and anxiety, is good for your breathing & cardiovascular system and is a natural antidepressant and immune booster. You can find me at the next stand up show in town, that’s for sure!
Stretching is something we often downplay in our fitness journey but it is an extremely important aspect and is rather simple to implement into your daily routine. When sitting at your desk for a few hours, take a few minutes to reach your arms up to the ceiling or get up and give your legs a good wiggle. This is another easy one to add to your time in front of the tv or even to your early morning routine. According to Harvard Health, stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in our joints. Without it, the muscles shorten and become tight and this makes it more difficult for muscles to properly engage in activity. This puts us at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage and ultimately takes us away from our health goals.
10. Drink Water
We’ve always heard our parents say “Make sure you drink enough water,” but what really is behind this seemingly important statement? It turns out it’s not just another reason for our parents to be on our case, water really is an essential part of our health and well being. This clear tasteless liquid has many functions in our body including creating saliva, regulating body temperature, helping with brain function, flushing out waste, protecting your tissues, spinal cord and joints...just to name a few. If that didn’t seem important enough for your health, It actually maximizes physical performance by keeping you hydrated, which directly affects your strength, power and endurance. By carrying around your own reusable water bottle, you are sure to get your water intake for the day plus you will more easily avoid grabbing a sugar filled, empty calorie drink from the vending machine at work.
So I think it’s safe to say that the seemingly impossible, just became a bit more doable. Even if only a few points on this list resonate with you, they are sure to help you take that step forward on your fitness journey. It’s always the first step that seems the toughest but once you’ve taken a peak out of your comfort zone, it’s only a matter of time before you’re climbing the ladder to your ultimate health goals. Note to next years’ resolutions: HERE WE COME!