Making changes to your lifestyle does not need to be complex and radical.
In fact, it is the small changes that we make that can have the biggest impact on our health, fitness and wellbeing.
According to B J Fogg, a psychologist and researcher from Stanford University, the best way to create a lifelong habit, is to train your brain to succeed from a small change which then naturally becomes a part of your daily life.
Drastic new exercise regimes/diets can be overwhelming and unsustainable and as a result we lose motivation easily. Instead, if we start with small manageable changes, we are more likely to achieve success and thus maintain our motivation.
One of the easiest things that can be added to a daily routine is taking the stairs rather than the lift or escalator. Most of us have this as an option when travelling, at work or in our free time.
A Harvard Alumni Study, one of the biggest scientific studies of all time, found that men who climbed an average of eight or more flights of stairs a day had a 33% lower mortality rate than men who were sedentary.
By raising our heart rate, stair climbing burns more calories per minute than jogging and is great for maintaining strong bones, muscles, cardiovascular fitness and weight management. It also lowers the risk of developing chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, vascular dementia and even some cancers. For women, who have a higher osteoporosis risk compared to men, taking the stairs improves bone density.
As well as the physical health benefits of stair climbing, it is also associated with improved mental health. Physical Activity causes our bodies to release feel-good hormones called endorphins.
The remainder of this article explores small and manageable ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.
Remember, it’s all about ‘the little things.’
- Parking further away at the supermarket
- Getting off the bus a stop earlier
- Walking rather than driving to local destinations
- Parking at the back of the car park at work or on the top floor (extra stairs!)
- Go for a quick power walk on your lunch break – even for just 10 minutes
- Walk around on a phone call rather than sitting down
- Stand rather than sitting when possible – prolonged periods of uninterrupted sitting can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and obesity.
- Adding in squats whilst waiting for food to cook or whilst brushing your teeth – squats increase the range of motion in your hips and ankles, reducing lower back and knee pain, improving balance and circulation, helping us to build core strength and improve posture.
- Increasing the intensity of house work to raise your heart rate
- A few minutes of skipping provides a range of health benefits, including heart and lung fitness, strong bones, balance and flexibility.
- Adding in sit-ups or press-ups in between intervals of your favourite TV programmes to strengthen our core muscles
- Drinking an extra glass of water throughout the day can help reduce/relieve headaches, as well as helping with nearly every bodily function, including circulation, digestion and elimination of wastes. It also means an extra journey to the water fountain too!
UK Department of Health 2019
Dr Mercola 2019
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