Rushing to work, dropping kids off at school, endless meetings, catching up with friends… according to new research from Bupa, despite waking up at 6.30am and going to sleep at 10.40pm, the average person in the UK tries to fit more than 17-and-a-half hours of activity into a 16-hour day. No wonder, then, that exercise is often one of the first things to drop off the schedule.
But you don't need to spend hours in the spin studio or run 20 miles every morning to see the benefits of exercise. To stay healthy, it's recommended that adults do at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise weekly – so things like brisk walking, cycling and swimming. Break that down and it's just over 20 minutes a day. However, if, 'I haven't got time' is your go-to excuse for skipping the gym, then try these three top tips for size.
HIIT it up
High-intensity interval training has been a key fitness trend for the past few years and there are two main reasons why. 1. it works, and 2. it's super-quick.
In a HIIT session you'll work super-hard for an intense burst of exercise, typically 20 seconds, followed by 30 seconds intervals of recovery. Including the warm up and cool down, a HIIT session can be over in as little as 20 minutes, with just three minutes of hard work. Winner.
The best bit if you're time pressed is that a study at McMasters University, Canada, found HIIT sessions could be as beneficial to your health as hours of steady state cycling (quick intervals of cycling). There is a caveat though, for HIIT to be effective you need to work at around 80-90% of your maximum effort on those intense bursts. You know the level where you feel like you just can’t continue? Yep, there.
Most gyms offer HIIT style classes or you can try it yourself by downloading an app such as Tabata Pro, which allows you to set intervals, and then try explosive moves like sprinting, burpees, mountain climbers and jumping squats followed by active recovery such as walking.
Ramp up your commute
Now the weather's getting better, make your commute work for you. Instead of spending it trapped behind the wheel or shoved up against someone's armpit, multitask and try running, walking or cycling to work. If the distance seems a bit far you can always run part of the way and then jump on public transport. And if you're nervous about cycling in traffic, there are plenty of adult urban cycle skills courses that will build up your confidence. Transport for London offers a range of free sessions.
Research shows that exercising outdoors is more effective at boosting your mood and reducing stress than exercising indoors, so you should arrive at the office feeling all zen too.
Get app. fit
No time to go to the gym or walk to the swimming pool, no problem, you've got everything you need to find a good workout in your pocket. There are loads of brilliant workout apps available on your phone as well as a host of great YouTube videos, with most of them offer varying session lengths starting from just 10 minutes.
Two favourites are the Nike+ Training Club App, which guides you through strength, endurance, and mobility workouts alongside sessions from top athletes and celebrities such as Serena Williams and Ellie Goulding. Or, if you prefer your exercise a bit more chill, check out Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. The no-nonsense Texan yoga instructor has great follow-along sessions including some that are between 10 and 15 minutes. Set your alarm 20 minutes early and do it when you wake up.
Take a time out
Research from Bupa reveals that only 5% of us take time out during the day to relax, and these moments of down time are packed with social media, checking emails, and catching up on WhatsApp conversations.
However, it’s so important to factor some rest and recovery into our busy lifestyles to stay healthy and remain injury free. It can give our bodies the chance to repair from a small niggle or injury, or allow us time to see a physio to help get us back on track. So make sure you schedule in ample time and stick to it! Switch off your mobile phone and dedicate time to you.
Fitness experts Charlotte Thomas and Emma Lax have been working with Bupa UK to highlight the importance of taking time out of our busy schedules to rest, recover and repair. Bupa understands that it’s often hard to find time to do this but that’s why they have a range of products available on a pay as you go basis that can help, from GP appointments to physiotherapy and consultations. No insurance needed.
To find out more about the Bupa UK PAYG offering visit www.bupa.co.uk/bupa-on-demand or search Bupa PAYG
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