We’re all busy people- trust me I know! Between studying for final exams, summer jobs, and going out with friends, we might as well forget about that sexy beach body, right? Absolutely wrong! There’s this widespread misconception that, in order to stay fit, we need to devote hours and hours of our precious time to heart-pumping, sweat-filled, physical activity. Don’t get me wrong, marathon running certainly keeps you in shape, but there’s more to being healthy than counting miles. Fitness is all about the choices we make every day- even the ones that seem meaningless. Actually, it’s the little things we do that are the most important in determining our life styles. So, if you’re like me, and don’t have time to head over to the gym every morning, don’t worry. Simply commit yourselves to some of these small lifestyle changes, and I GUARANTEE you will be in the best shape ever. Remember, fitness is about choices; choose to live the active life and the rest is a breeze!
Stretching isn’t just something to do before or after your workout. Immediately when you wake up, reach to the sky, touch your toes, do some quick yoga poses! Even the simplest stretch creates strong, lean muscles. Plus, the movement alone jump starts your metabolism and dramatically increases your fat burning potential for the entire day.
In comparison to other forms of exercise, walking might seem like an easy way out. Not true! In reality, as a low impact activity with lots of health benefits, walking is actually one of the best things you can do for your body- and one of the easiest! Research proves that simply walking for thirty minutes a day leads to weight loss, an improved mood, and a stronger body. So, whether you’re on your way to class or selecting a parking spot at the mall, make a conscious effort to include more walking in your life. Every extra step counts!
Jump, skip, chase, kick, run, frolic, be a child again! Next time you’re hanging out with a group of friends, make your social life and your workout life one in the same- start a pick-up soccer game, play some beach volleyball, badminton, tennis, glow-in-the-dark frisbee; the possibilities are endless. Don’t have any equipment lying around? No problem. Think of all the games you used to play when you were a little kid- tag, chase, hide and seek. Add movement to your favorite drinking games if you have to! When my friends and I have parties, we hide spoons around the house and make everyone run around the house looking for them (i.e. the card game ‘spoons,’ but without the spoons in front of you). Yeah, I know we’re all in college now, but that doesn’t mean we have to completely grow up just yet.
Take the Stairs
I cannot emphasize enough how much of a difference taking the stairs really makes! It’s probably the easiest way you can throw a workout into your day without having to go “work out.” Don’t let the number of flights hinder you- the more the better. I purposely picked a dorm on a higher floor just so I could get a better workout (a little extreme, I admit, but the point is taking the stairs works). And remember, walking DOWN stairs counts too!
Commit yourself to doing a set of crunches every day- yes every day- either right when you wake up or right before you go to sleep (or even better, both). Start with 15 a night. When that becomes too easy, move up to 25, 50, etc. Not only are you toning a lot of your body’s most visible muscles, but it’s simple and consistent. Plus, if you make crunches a part of your routine now, eventually you’ll wire yourself to expect that tight feeling in your stomach. When I was in middle school, I had to do 20 crunches every night as part of a physical therapy program. The routine became embedded in my brain, and now I personally cannot fall asleep unless I do a set right before I go to bed. Trust me, taking 10 minutes every night or morning really does pay off!
If you practice yoga, you’ve already heard about the importance of the breath, but did you know taking time to sit and just breathe actually can enhance your physical wellbeing too? Deep breaths, relaxation, and calm keep oxygen flowing throughout the body, which stimulates your metabolism and connects the mind to the body during physical activity. Research actually shows that such mindful exercise is more beneficial to your overall health and fitness level. In other words, if you can keep yourself calm and in balance, you can get more for working out less!
Get addicted to the fitness drug
Make these little changes a normal part of your routine and, before you know it, you’ll crave the extra movement in your life. I know that I personally cannot function if I’m stationary all day. That’s because my body is used to being active every day of the week- and when I say ‘active,’ I don’t mean that I’m putting hours in at the gym. Actually, I can’t remember the last time I went to the gym! Even without a stereotypical ‘workout,’ I’ve managed to stay both fit and healthy just by implementing these small changes and making them part of a routine. So start making better choices today, be consistent, and get addicted to the active lifestyle!
What little things do already do every day to live an active lifestyle?