In most of the United States, May brings with it warm weather, beautiful sunshine, and an abundance of opportunities to get outdoors. It is also National Physical Fitness and Sports Month, which makes it the perfect time to commit to being active.
Exercise and physical fitness can have a wealth of benefits for all ages. In children, exercise can improve focus and attention in school, reduce blood sugar levels, control weight, improve emotional well-being, and strengthen the heart, lung, and muscles in the body. It also gives adolescents an activity to focus on that keeps them away from drugs and alcohol. Adults can see all of these benefits, as well as lowered risks for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer. Older adults can also benefit from exercise in the form of lowered risk for falls and improved cognitive functioning. Across all age groups, exercise and physical fitness can also drastically improve mental health.
I’m sure you’re thinking that between work, raising a family, and meeting all of your financial, social, family, and community obligations, there simply isn’t time to fit in hours at the gym or a five mile run every day and still have time to get a good night’s sleep. However, you don’t need to be a gym rat to enjoy the benefits of exercise and physical fitness. The following five tips can help you incorporate physical fitness into your everyday life…without having to sacrifice that good night’s sleep!
Get Sweaty Before Showering
One of the easiest ways to incorporate exercise into your daily routine is to associate it with something you’re already doing. Since you’re already showering before work or school, go ahead and get sweaty right beforehand. Research has shown that a quick but intense 7-minute workout can give you many of the benefits that longer workouts can, while easily fitting into your morning routine.
Before you hop in the shower, crank out a set of 10 each of the following: burpees, sit-ups, push-ups, jumping jacks, squat jumps, and lunges, as well as a 30 to 60 second plank and side plank. If you have a smartphone nearby, there are several tried-and-true 7-minute workout apps that can have you sweating long before your morning coffee has even finished brewing.
Combine Chores with Exercise
Often, we get so overwhelmed with what we have to do, that adding exercise in just seems like one more chore on never-ending to-do list. However, it’s easy to combine physical activities with things you already have to do. Below are some easy ways to multitask for fitness:
- If you have to pick your children up from school, try parking a few blocks away and sprinting to the school. Your kids will enjoy walking or sprinting too and they won’t even realize they’re getting a quick workout in as well!
- If you have a dog, tossing on your running shoes and getting a few brief sprints in during your evening walk can help both you and your pup stay in good cardiovascular health.
- While cooking dinner, you can easily add in squats and calf raises while standing at the stove. You can also grab the side of the counter and attempt a few standing pushups as well.
- Yet another long conference call? Try pacing back and forth or walking the halls while using a wireless headset. Even better? If your meeting is with a local client, ask to meet in a park and go for a walk during your meeting.
Do Chores the Old-Fashioned Way
In today’s modern and technology-filled world, we have so many shortcuts to during chores – riding lawnmowers, robotic vacuum cleaners, dishwashers. However, many of the “old-fashioned” ways of doing chores were actually great ways to stay fit. Vacuuming and mopping your floors, dusting, using a push mower, pulling weeds, and raking leaves are all physically demanding and can work your whole body, while also helping you connect to your house and yard. Yardwork is especially helpful for getting you out in nature, which has been shown to be beneficial for both your physical and mental health.
Use a Pedometer
If you’re the type of person that enjoys setting personal goals and then beating your previous records, a pedometer might just be the thing you need to get moving. There are many options on the market to help you keep track of steps and encourage you to hit 10,000 steps a day. For those that wear a smartwatch, there are apps available to help you keep track. There are also specialized devices that only count steps. Some even allow you to join a community of walkers to compete in daily, weekly, and monthly challenges and encourage you to reach your step goals.
Even if you don’t have a pedometer, you can find little ways to add steps into your daily routine – getting up and walking during commercial breaks during your favorite shows, parking at the far end of the parking lot, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator can make a big difference.
Make it a Family Activity
If you have kids (or even pets), you already have to spend time with them and play with them, so why not get the whole family involved in physical fitness? Take evening walks around the neighborhood, grab a soccer ball or frisbee for a quick game in the backyard, or crank up some fun music and have a mid-day dance party! On the weekends, hit a local, state, or national park for some hiking and beautiful scenery. Your kids will love spending time with you and you’ll love the workout, while at the same time making memories with your favorite people.
As you can see, incorporating exercise doesn’t have to be time-consuming or stressful. Taking small steps to get up and get moving throughout your day can add up to big benefits for your body and your mental health. This May, commit to making physical activity part of your everyday routine.