Exercise snacking: easy ways to stay fit when you’re short on time

Staying fit when we’re short on time can often seem impossible. But, the good news is that we don’t need to spend hours sweating it out at the gym to up our fitness levels. Adopting one of Liz’s go-to habits, dubbed ‘exercise snacking’, is a simple way to add more movement into our day.

“I know that many of us are often looking for ways to be more active, but, to be honest, I think it can actually feel quite overwhelming to know exactly where to get started,” Liz explains. “There’s a lot of noise – and six packs – on social media, and it can all just feel a bit out of reach for the majority of us.

“But we can all easily add more movement into our day, and it can be as simple as including a few press-ups while waiting for the kettle to boil.”

Exercise snacking – adding small pockets of movement into our daily routine – is a simple way to ensure we move more. Here’s how to get started.

How to stay fit when we’re busy

When we’re juggling work with seeing friends and caring for family, our own wellness often falls to the bottom of the to-do list. Having a routine is an effective way to ensure we stay consistent. But, we’re often told to set an earlier alarm to fit in some early-morning exercise. Sleep is so crucial for our wellbeing, and getting up even earlier might be totally out of the question if we’re already run off our feet.

Instead, we suggest adding movement into an existing routine for the best benefits. It’s important that we find something convenient and that we like, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Studies show that we’re more likely to stick to exercise if it’s an activity we enjoy.

But, how do we get started? First, consider your typical day, and how it might be possible to incorporate more movement in. It might be getting up from our desk at least once an hour to fetch a glass of water, or scheduling a phone meeting where we can walk through the park. It all adds up.

Simple exercises to support your fitness

Time for balance

Testing your balance throughout the day is a super easy exercise that we can do to help support our core muscles and build strength in our legs.

What’s more, it couldn’t be easier to add into our morning routine.

Liz loves to stand on one leg for 30 seconds each side while she’s brushing her teeth. You can use a wall for support if you’re feeling off balance, until you build up more strength.

Counter push-ups

We often think we need buckets of time to tone up our muscles, but this isn’t the case. Practising push-ups against a kitchen counter while waiting for the kettle to boil is a simple way to fit more movement into your day.

You can also alternate with tricep dips too. These simple moves will help to strengthen your upper body, contributing to better posture.

Elevate your workspace

Working long hours on a computer? Investing in a desk that switches between standing and seated is a good option to ensure you’re not spending too long sitting down. Plus, standing up more means you can fit in a few rounds of standing exercises like squats and lunges, helping to build leg and glute strength. And, studies show that regular movement can help to improve our work performance.

It may also be worth considering an under-desk treadmill if you really want to invest in your office setup. These easily slot under standing desks, meaning we can get extra steps in, all while answering emails.

Add more weight

A hands-free phone call offers the perfect opportunity to squeeze in some bicep curls. Grab a pair of light hand weights, or opt for bottles of water or tins of beans to get started.

Alternatively, wearing ankle weights or a weighted jacket throughout the day is a simple way to add more resistance, helping to gradually build strength and stamina.

Take a stroll

For those of us commuting into work, getting off at an earlier bus, tram or tube stop will add more of a walk to our journey. It’s a simple way to add in a few more steps to our day.

Movement throughout the day is important too. Guilty of having lunch ‘al-desko’? Make sure to take time away from your computer to stretch your legs and clear your mind. Walking for 20 to 30 minutes can help us to switch off, increasing our ability to focus on returning to work.

If you’re concerned about being away from work for that long, schedule in a walk with a phone meeting. If you can though, take a real break to be mindful and simply concentrate on your surroundings, giving your work brain a rest.

Simple tips to stay motivated

  • Slow your routine down and focus your mind to target certain muscle groups. Try this throughout the day – engage your core while sitting or standing to improve your overall posture.
  • Don’t push yourself so far that you feel like giving up. Take breaks to help your body recuperate, maintaining energy levels and your motivation.
  • Resistance bands are a great way to increase the difficulty of each exercise. Use them for squats to vary your workout intensity and maintain balance.
  • Don’t underestimate the benefits of stretching, not only to release tension from slouching over a desk all day, but to relax muscles and prevent injury before and after exercise.

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