This month, SO’s resident fitness columnist Sarah Gorman reveals the ways you can incorporate simple yet effective exercises into your everyday life to look and feel fitter…
When we think about fitness and exercise we often associate it with losing weight, getting leaner, building muscle, training for an event or generally getting in better shape physically. All this is relevant of course but there is also another factor to consider: Life.
Taking steps to get fitter and moving more in your daily life will impact on everything from not getting out of breath when chasing your kids, walking the dog, taking a flight of stairs and dare I say it… even your sex life!
You will feel better about yourself which leads to confidence and general self-esteem. You’ll feel younger and more alive. Training doesn’t have to be about getting bossed about by a personal trainer, ‘killing it’ at the gym or doing endless online classes. Getting fitter and finding more ways to move your body on a daily basis can be a pleasant experience for those of you who don’t even like exercise!
I’m sure that you don’t need me to tell you about how much muscle tone we lose as we get older and how our bones become more brittle and our joints more painful and stiff – if we don’t move our bodies and keep them active and well oiled.
Think of your everyday routine and the functional movements that you do – or maybe don’t do because you struggle. I like to bring functional movement into my training and my classes because fitness and exercise is not just about the gym. If we are clever we can emulate the movements that we do in day to day life and incorporate them into our training. This means that your every day movement becomes more fluid; you will gain mobility and strength to do the everyday activities that you need to do or want to do.
Speaking of which… sex. It’s all about lust and being in the moment…right? Well yes but, if your body is feeling fit and strong then you can improve your endurance, you can hold up your own body weight and you can control your own movement; slowing things down when you want and then speeding them up when the time is right. Having a sense of control within your own body is extremely empowering to yourself and to the person that you are with. To be able to have that same amount of control within your body – to be able to use your internal muscles to hold back and then let go at just the right moment is even more empowering and sensual. What’s not to love about that?
But how do we do this? Well to get a fully rounded, healthy fitness routine we need to think about the cardio element, the strength and resistance element as well as the mobility and flexibility. It hugely depends on your personal goals and individual needs as to how much you do and how much time you allocate to each element.
If you simply want to start to feel healthy and fitter in daily life, then I would encourage you to look at your NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) levels. This is the energy expended for everything we do that is not sleeping, eating or sports-related activity. It’s all the ‘stuff’ you do in your daily life and these activities can easily be enhanced. Walk to work, walk to school, walk the dog. Housework – do the vacuuming, get out into the garden at the weekends. Basically get your steps up and don’t sit down as often.
If you are looking to improve your fitness levels and start to feel and even see some physical results (obviously nutrition is 80% of the effect on weight loss) then choose to start adding in an element of each of the categories I have mentioned – again, depending on the results you want will depend on how much work you put in. But start to think of those daily activities that you do and see if you can make them a little more challenging for yourself by adding some weight to your ankles or wrists when you go for a walk. Use your desk and chair in the office or at home to do some simple stretches and get those inner thighs ready for cracking some nuts!