It’s easy – anyone can keep ‘Fit by Bit’!
Guest article by Michelle Cederberg, MKin, PFLCA
Exercise doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition to deliver good results. With just a minute here and five minutes there, you can end the week with calorie burning that makes a difference. The key to ‘sneak exercise‘ is to create a HABIT around increasing your activity in creative ways that are built in to you day. You’re committed to certain ‘to do’s’ every day – laundry, grocery shopping, banking, house cleaning, even meetings and meals – so why not sneak in a few extra effort exercises while you’re doing them? Calorie burning doesn’t have to be in the form of structured exercise to make a positive impact, and eventually these sneak exercises may lead to more challenging efforts once you start to feel the results. When it comes to activity and calorie burning your personal goal should be to do more than what is normal for you, and every effort adds up!
Here are 10 ways to get ‘Fit by Bit’. You won’t have to spend a dime or find much more time!
- Practice proper POSTURE – By making an effort to stand “tall and proud” you contract dozens of muscles from your legs up to your neck. Muscle contraction burns calories and builds muscle. Whether you’re ironing, doing dishes, or standing in a line-up at the bank concentrate on keeping a solid foot stance, a slight bend in your knees, an open chest (i.e. standing tall, not slouched), with shoulders depressed and head up. Not only does proper posture provide exercise but it helps you feel better too – more confident and poised.
- STEP it UP – There’s a movement lead by Health Canada to encourage Canadians to TAKE THE STAIRS. We all work or live in buildings that have stairs, and since the advent of elevators and escalators, we’re using them much less. That laziness is landing on our waist lines. An average 160lb person will burn about 50 calories climbing up stairs for 4 minutes (and down for 1 minute). If that same person chooses to take the stairs for the same length of time 5 days a week, by the end of the year they’ll burn about 12,700 calories (or about 4 lbs of fat). No cost, no extra time, great pay-off! Start by going up one or two flights before you hop the elevator, and use the stairs every time you’re looking down them. Health Canada’s Stairway to Health on-line calculatorhttp://stairway.hc-sc.gc.ca/calcalc.aro offers a fun way to see how your little efforts pay off in a big way over time.
- LEG it to Laundry – Whether you’re folding clothes, ironing them, or waiting for the rinse cycle, captive time is ideal for adding in some lovely leg work. Stand and perform 10-15 plié squats (think ballerina). Place heels just beyond shoulder width with toes rotated out to 45°. As you drop into your squat keep your knees in line with your toes and make sure head, shoulders, and hips ‘stack up’ as you drop down. Squeeze your butt as you stand tall.
- SQUEEZE to please – Your Gluteus Maximus – affectionately know as the ‘butt’ is the largest muscle group in the body. Fire it up and you’ll burn calories. Whether you’re standing or sitting, an invisible butt squeeze (tighten, hold for two seconds, release) repeated 10-15 times, one to three times a day, will tighten your tush and burn some more calories. Remind yourself to practise proper posture and push through your chest as you return to the starting position. Aim for 10 or more repetitions.
- BACK for basics – Imagine you’re squeezing a pencil between your shoulder blades and you have to hold the muscles tight so the pencil doesn’t fall. It doesn’t take long before the muscles in your back start to fatigue does it? Any time you re-align your posture, sit or stand a bit taller, and get away from a slumped posture, you’re exercising your back and core muscles.
- PUSH UP bra-vo! – Did you know that five pushups works over seven different muscles and burns up to 10 calories? Not only do pushups target chestmuscles, but they shape shoulders and tighten core muscles too. If you don’t want to “get down” and gimme five, why not place hands on the edge of your desk or the back of your couch? Step back far enough so your body is at about a 45 degree angle from the floor, then lower your body.
- Do the “CAN CAN” – Before you open up a couple of cans of soup at mealtime, do a few lateral raises to tone your shoulders. Holding a can in each hand, stand tall with your arms at your sides. Lift your arms up so your arms and body form a “T” pose. The cans add weight for resistance, so if you’re feeling strong, choose chunky soups. Try 10 to 15 repetitions. 1 set will take you all of 30 seconds to complete!
- Be a BICEPS bagger – The next time you’re carrying your grocery or shopping bags to your car, perform a series of biceps curls as you do. Keep your elbows at your sides and palms up as you hold the handles. Curl your groceries toward your shoulders. Lower and repeat until you get to your car or until your biceps tire out. Need more of a challenge? Park further away from the store’s entrance.
- Dine and DIP – Every chair is a triceps machine waiting to tighten and tone your arms. Before you start each meal, grasp the front of your seat (fingers pointing forward) hoist your body weight into your arms, inch your behind over the edge of the chair and lower yourself down into a dip then back up. Drop down 20 to 30 centimetres, keep shoulders square and solid, and extend through your spine (as if you’re running it along the chair edge). Kill the jigglies by doing as many repetitions as you can!
- ABandon the snack run – When the commercials hit, skip the trip to the fridge, and sneak in a set of crunches instead. Lie on the floor, tighten your abdominals, and then perform your favourite abdominal exercise 10-15 times. This way you’ll be burning off instead of adding on.
For more ways to sneak exercise into your day, visit Fitness Jumpsite’s Calorie Calculator. Enter your body weight and the duration of your exercise and it’ll display a list of hundreds of activities and how many calories you’ve burned in that time. Find your activity (or a reasonable facsimile) and record your success.
Michelle Cederberg is President of Live Out Loud Speaking and Coaching helps people with full schedules and a long list of responsibilities maximize personal energy to optimize health, happiness and productivity. She believes that new exercisers should start small and create the habit around activity so that success and enjoyment stay in the mix! For more information on how to become ‘Fit by Bit’ check out www.worklifeenergy.com or e-mail Michelle at firstname.lastname@example.org