For most of us, a 40-hour work week involves sitting for long hours at our workstations, often at the cost of our physical health. Time-consuming calls, presentations, and chugging coffee at our desks while finishing a project are typical activities associated with work. All of these, though, come at a price: fatigue, stress, and a tech neck to name a few. The good news is that these occupational hazards can easily be avoided by sneaking in a few exercises without putting in much effort.
Why do people cut out on physical activity?
“People lack awareness of physical fitness, which leads to injuries and in turn demotivates them from exercising regularly,” says Sharaf Ali, a fitness trainer from Bengaluru. Moreover, people sign up for gym because of a friend. “This almost always leads to discontinuity,” he adds.
“I purchased a year’s gym membership, but I’ve hardly worked out five sessions. Lack of understanding of gym equipment and workout routines is the biggest challenge,” says Uzma Jabeen (22), a senior technical advisor at an MNC in Bengaluru. She also feels self-conscious and intimidated to be working out in a common space, which demotivates her from exercising.
What counts as physical activity?
“Walking, jogging, swimming, dancing (maybe Zumba), or working out are all forms of physical activity,” says Clinton M, an advanced personal trainer at Cult Fit, a health and fitness centre in Bengaluru.
How can one sneak exercise into daily life?
If hitting the gym is time-consuming, then make use of chores like walking to work, doing the laundry, washing vessels, and gardening to serve the same purpose. The muscle movement produced with routine activities such as walking, sleeping, and eating can also help shed calories through a process called non-exercise activity thermogenesis (also called NEAT). Hence, the idea to sneak exercise into a busy life is to perform NEAT efficiently.
Effective morning routine matters
- “Waking up early in the morning has its benefits. Start your day by making the bed and taking a brisk walk as it provides oxygen to the brain and vitamin D gets absorbed in the body,” says Clinton.
- Stretch your way out of pain. “Stretching for ten minutes in the morning helps increase blood flow and decrease pain,” says Ali. Dynamic stretches, which involve stretching the whole body including the joints, can be done in the morning.
- Playing a sport such as cricket, badminton or football on the weekends helps one stay active and shed calories.
- Cycling instead of using an automobile. While running errands, either walk or cycle instead of using an automobile. It helps the leg muscles: quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. It is also a great way of reducing pollution.
- Both Ali and Clinton stress the importance of taking the stairs instead of elevators as much as possible. “In jobs that require sitting, the glutes, thighs, back, shoulders and neck suffer the most. Over time if one continues the sedentary lifestyle without taking an active break, the muscles become weak leading to joint pain, knee pain, back pain, and rounded (hunched) shoulders.”
- For every twenty-five minutes spent sitting, spend the next five standing, walking or stretching.
- “Dancing not only helps with shedding calories, but is also a great outlet to reduce stress,” says Clinton.
- Lastly, do not forget to exercise the brain through meditation. Even closing the eyes for a few minutes and breathing deeply counts as meditation. “Hence the next time you’re waiting for that bus to arrive or the microwave to heat your food close your eyes and take a few deep breaths,” says Clinton.
Clinton further stresses that developing healthy habits is a form of exercise. “Not skipping meals, eating dinner two hours before sleeping, not using any gadgets one hour before sleep, having the right posture, and maintaining proper hygiene all count towards an active and healthy lifestyle.” Ultimately, the goal of sneaking exercise into one’s life is to stay healthy, and it starts with following basic routines.