Want to start getting in shape without too much stress on your body and mind? Claire Muffett-Reece has some helpful suggestions on light exercise tips that will soon path the way to a healthier you
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few decades you should be well aware of the many health benefits that come with exercising regularly. According to the NHS, it’s medically proven that people who partake in regular physical activity have a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, type 2 diabetes, bowel cancer, falls, depression, dementia and hip fractures, among others. And, of course, it increases your life expectancy. Win win!
However, that doesn’t mean to say you’ve got to jump off the sofa, don a pair of trainers and sprint out the door for a five mile jog (unless you want to); as for many it’s simply unattainable. Ailments, age and various other factors can all prevent you from taking part in anything too strenuous – but the good news is there are many other lighter forms of exercise you can do that will still see you enjoying those health benefits. Read on for tips and tricks on how you can exercise as part of your daily routine.
Physical inactivity is associated with one in six deaths in the UK and is estimated to cost the UK £7.4 billion annually (Gov.uk)
Walk the Walk
First on our hit list of light exercises is using your legs for some good old fashioned walking. Often overlooked as being too ‘easy’, in fact going for a stroll is a fantastic low impact way to burn calories and make your heart healthier in the process. In fact, a brisk 10-minute daily walk counts towards your 150 minutes of weekly exercise recommended for adults age 19 to 64. What’s more, it also keeps your mind active as well as your body, with statistics showing that yet again that 10 minute walk increases mental alertness, energy and positive mood. You can even think outside the box when it comes to how to incorporate it into your daily routine. Get off of the bus a couple of stops earlier and walk the rest of the way; park your car further away from the shops; or stop and think before automatically getting in your vehicle if your destination’s within walking distance. As a well-known supermarket states when talking about their prices, every little helps.
Three one-minute bursts of intense physical activity every day can lower a person’s risk of a heart attack or stroke ((Nature)
Home & Garden
You should also take into account all the exercise you do around your home and garden without even realising. Sure, housework and gardening can be a pain, but it’s also a great way to keep your heart healthy and reduce those stress levels. In fact, doing household chores can be just as effective as running or working out, with performing 30 minutes of any kind of physical activity five days a week slashing your risk of heart disease by 20 per cent. Dusting, hoovering, mopping, washing the windows or mowing the lawn – all of these contribute to your light exercise regime. Hoovering is said to burn around 193 calories an hour, while washing your car can burn close to 235! Now might also be the time to crack on with all the DIY jobs you’ve been putting off, too, with wallpapering said to burn 133 calories an hour. Again, it all adds up.
Be a good sport
Sport is another area you can get involved with when it comes to light exercise, making sure you’re doing the right type for your health so it doesn’t become too challenging or vigorous. Look at it this way – if you can talk comfortably (or ideally sing) while exercising, this normally counts as light intensity. It’s all about encouraging yourself to move your body more than you usually would. Start by taking the stairs instead of the lift, then gradually build yourself up to picking a particular sport you like the look of, such as a gentle bike ride – choosing a flat and easy route so you don’t become too out of breath. Swimming is also an ideal form of light exercise, choosing breaststroke and moving through the water at a leisurely pace; or you could even join a water aerobics or other aqua-based class, so long as you pick something that’s not too strenuous. Similarly, yoga and Pilates classes have huge benefits when it comes to your health, improving muscle strength, maintaining strong bones and also regulating your blood pressure and sugar levels. And why not consider dancing as a form of light exercise? You could join a local community class in whatever form of dance you prefer – or simply bop around your kitchen with the radio on for a good 15 minutes to reap those benefits!
Just as gardening and housework plays an important role in light intensity workouts, so too can that hobby you enjoy doing. In fact, studies have shown regularly taking the time out for an activity you love not only reduces stress and boosts your mental health, but it also lowers your blood pressure and reduces your BMI (Body Max Index). Need convincing? A round of golf on an average course can see you racking up those steps with you walking on average between five to seven kilometres, while bowling with your friends or family can see you burning anything from 170 to 300 calories per game. Pool, snooker, fishing and even a game of darts all count as light forms of exercise too – put simply, if you’re standing up and taking part in some form of movement it’s most definitely beneficial to your health!
You can even lie down and take part in some light activity, but with this next form of exercise we can’t promise you won’t end up out of breath. That’s right – we’re talking about the benefits that come with getting jiggy in the bedroom! Sex is yet another way to stop you being sedentary and get you moving; and is also seen as yet another form of light to moderate activity (depending on positions and duration). Besides the fact it burns around 101 calories on average for men, and 69 for women, it also lowers blood pressure, increases your heart health, strengthens muscles and reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke and hypertension. What more of an excuse do you need?