As we close out January and stop saying "Happy New Year," I am thrilled so many of you are taking your fitness challenge seriously. It would be great if going for the gold six months from now becomes as important as it is to you now (I hope it does!) but I suppose any new year tends to be a real catalyst for change.
Apart from proper eating, the biggest challenge most of my clients face has nothing to do with showing up for their workouts with me. While it’s true I can be the taskmaster, you all seem to know going into this that once you show up, you’re basically mine for an hour and in order to get out of here and into the cool morning air, you pretty much have to do everything I ask. The biggest hurdle, then, is getting that cardio workout in 2-3 times per week. After all, I don’t have you running around a parking lot or subject you to a rowing machine for more than a few minutes at a time.
Perhaps if you looked at the cardio element of your weekly commitment differently even during weeks you find it hard to get to the gym, moving more every day (in addition to our workouts together) will simply mean less time sitting — a way to automatically lower your risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and an early demise. While intense exercise is good for us, 30 minutes to an hour of cardio doesn’t completely erase the effects of a sedentary lifestyle. But it can make big difference.
So how much cardio is enough? Experts recommend 150 minutes per week (30 minutes five days a week) which includes our workouts together. Whether you pick 30 continuous minutes of activity or 3 ten-minute sessions, however, there is more than one way to get more active between workouts with me.
- Are there stairs in your building? I found it fascinatng that researchers discovered that while the rate of caloric expenditure was greater when taking two steps at the time, the burn over an entire flight of stairs was higher when taking them one at a time. Being out breath, of course, is normal either way…
- How about moving your meetings? No, not rescheduling them. I mean setting up walking meetings, chatting with a coworker as you walk around the block with them. Even walking for 15 minutes burns up 66 calories, while sitting for that same length of time uses up only 28. Mobile meetings can also strengthen work relationships as well as improve health and boost creativity. Actors playing spies and politicians do it in movies to make the context look more interesting, so why not do it for your health?
- Think of the ring tone on your smart phone as an excuse to stand up. Every time you take a call, stand or walk to another part of the office, if possible. Better yet, create your own standing desk by stacking books or investing in an inexpensive contraption to help you occasionally work standing up. People may think you’re nuts, but they’re not occupying your body nor looking for a way to burn more calories.
- You KNOW you need to drink more water. And the more water you drink, the more trips you make to the bathroom. If you are not a natural water-drinker, find a way to flavor your water that makes it more palatable (lemon, cucumbers, etc.)
On Your Own …
- You don’t have to get gussied up and go our to a club to dance, You can crank up the music on your home speakers and dance for a solid 30 minutes. Like nobody’s watching…
- Go on a cheap date with a partner, a neighbor or a friend to burn calories. Long walks with a little running thrown in. Bike to your favorite frozen yogurt hangout or even the movie theater and then walk or bike home. Or take up thy racket and hit a ball or two, even if it’s up against a building. The scramble is good for you.
- There are tons of computer-generated fitness games called “energames” put out by Xbox or Wii FitPlus. Find the ones that get your heart pumping!
Getting Places ….
- You don’t HAVE to sit there and wait for your flight or your connecting flight. You can walk around the terminal, rolling your carry-on behind you to burn up a few more calories. Pack a pair of sneakers or just wear them to the airport. Airports are now interesting places to explore, with museums, displays and great little shops — as l long as you pay no attention to the smell of cinnamon rolls wafting past you.
- Europeans do it all the time. Americans, not so much. Walking or biking to work. Most of us can’t picture ourselves doing this, but you gotta try it sometime just to be able to say you did it, right? The wealth of biking trails and dedicated pedestrian room on streets these days make it much less dangerous that it used to me. Map out a special route for yourself.