Getting fit can seem like a mammoth task – and an expensive one.
Gym memberships can cost the earth and if you don’t enjoy lifting weights or doing aerobics classes, you’re not going to make the most of them.
But you know, there are loads of little things you can do every day to improve your fitness and shed those extra few kilos. You don’t need to be wearing lycra and you don’t have to carve out time in the day to workout.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, or NEAT, is where we burn calories while doing anything that’s not eating, sleeping or actual exercise. It accounts for everything from hoovering to playing with the kids or fidgeting.
There’s just one rule to remember: sit still less.
Bear that in mind and you’re well on your way to being slimmer, fitter and healthier.
1. Balance on one foot or squat while brushing your teeth
One of the best things you can do for your health is to work on your balance. Working on your balance every day will ensure that it’s still intact as you age – reducing the risk of falls.
Fitness isn’t just about weight loss or muscle gain – it’s also about making sure that you’re as functional and mobile as possible for as long as possible.
2. Walk to work or to the shops
“It’s summer so get yourself outside and walk to work, or if it’s too far to walk get off the train/bus a few stops early,” Jake McCarthy, PT at Virgin Active, tells The Sun.
“Download yourself a great podcast or your favourite album and say you are going to walk for the entire length of an episode. Walk to the supermarket instead of drive and encourage the children to cycle to school.”
3. Clean your car
Cleaning is one of those dry activities that burns a ridiculous number of calories.
Hoovering and ironing both use up a lot of energy (30 minutes of hoovering can use up 119kcals while cleaning the windows burns 167kcals).
But how often do most of us clean our cars? Rather than driving it to the carwash, do it yourself and burn 153 calories from just washing the outside alone. It’s way more if you then hoover and scrub away inside.
4. Play with the kids more
Kids tend to be way more active than us – and it’s not just because they don’t have to go to work.
They’re constantly jumping about and running around. So, release your inner kid and if you have them, do more with them.
“Plan a fun adventure with your children,” Jake says. “Jump over logs in the forest, play stuck in the mud and tag, have a go at those monkey bars. Instead of watching an afternoon of films, hit a trampoline park or a climbing wall.”
5. Ditch the supermarket trolley and pick up a basket
Forget pushing a trolley around Sainsbury’s – carrying a full basket is like having an upper body workout in the middle of the frozen goods aisle.
Carrying extra weight in your hands will get your arm and core muscles engaging.
For an extra burn (and to be more environmentally friendly), why not try going to the shops on the bus or train and using a backpack to stick your groceries in. That way you’re giving yourself a full body workout while running your errands.
6. Take the stairs and walk up escalators
As we say, it’s all about moving as much as possible. It might feel like a faff at first but stick with it and it’ll soon become second nature.
Forget awkward convos in the lifts at work – find the staircase.
Apart from anything else, having that extra ten minutes of walking up and down stairs can help you either unwind after work or ramp yourself up for the day.
7. Do your pelvic floor exercises in the car
Find yourself stuck in a traffic jam? Don’t waste that opportunity by just sitting still. It’s the perfect opportunity to engage your pelvic floor.
Squeeze for five seconds and then release for five seconds, and repeat until the lights turn amber.
Alternatively, give your pelvic exercises a go when you’re travelling on public transport. Do them at the bus stop and the train station.
No one can see you squeezing, and the stronger your pelvic floor, the less likely you are to suffer things like incontinence as you get older.
8. Go for a walk at lunchtime
The average person only takes 31 minutes of their lunch break, with loads of people not leaving their desks at all.
But scientists from Bristol University have found that getting active at lunchtime can help employees feel more “productive, happy, efficient and calm”.
And Birmingham Uni experts have found that as little as five minutes of exercise after working can help improve our memories.
Even if you only have 20 minutes, you can still jot up around 2,000 steps – and that’s before you even factor in the walking you do during the rest of the day.
So plug into your favourite playlist or podcast and get out for a break. You’ll be at your 10,000 step goal before you know it.
9. Get gardening
Make the most of the weather and get tending your garden this bank holiday.
Half an hour of mowing the lawn can use 196 calories, while digging and shoveling burns 250 calories.
Even watering the lawn or plants can help you burn 61 extra calories. So, it really is worth getting green-fingered.
“DIY and gardening may seem a chore, but it will get you moving and tick those things of the to-list. Mow the lawn regularly and put up shelves yourself. You may learn a few new skills on the way too!” Jake recommends.
10. Stand on the bus or train
We all want to bag a seat on the ride home but standing may be more useful.
Sure, you might not clock up any more steps or necessarily burn more calories, but standing on a moving vehicle can be great for working your core muscles and improving balance.
11. Use TV ad breaks to stretch
You don’t have to spend your evenings down the gym to work your muscles.
Jake says: “We are all hooked to a box set or two, but we can also use this time to stretch out our bodies.
“Sit in the pigeon pose or your legs out in a V shape to really feel the benefits.”
12. Dance doing the washing up
Washing up can be a drag but why not make the most of it? Stick your favourite tunes on and for that 10-15 minutes, dance.
In fact, dancing whenever you’ve got a tedious chore to do is brilliant both for your mental and physical health.
13. Once you feel confident, suggest a class to a mate
After a few months of living your most active life, you might start to feel like you could conquer something even more challenging.
“Instead of going to the pub with your friends, suggest a fitness class that you can do together,” says Jake.
“At Virgin Active, we have lots of classes that can be done in pairs – Punch, Heat and Grid – so you can catch up and burn calories at the same time.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission.