Exercise your body
There are many health benefits to regular exercise and you do not have to do much to see positive changes. It improves blood flow to the brain, helps to normalise insulin levels and reduce inflammation, supports the health of our blood vessels, relieves stress and more.
The official recommendation for adults in the UK is 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week, plus strength exercises twice per week to build the major muscles of the legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.
Building strength is important because muscle mass controls hormone regulation within the body, which helps insulin control. Simple squats or arm presses against a wall can be done anywhere, while Pilates, Yoga, Tai Chi and Q are also great forms of exercise as they blend mindfulness with movement.
For those that want something more physical, research shows that interval training (workouts in which you alternate periods of high-intensity exercise with low-intensity recovery, also known as HIIT) increases fitness and burns more calories over a short period of time than a period of prolonged exercise.
Aim to move more
It’s a fact that as a society, we simply don’t move enough. Sedentary desk based jobs, taking the car instead of walking, emailing a friend instead of visiting, hours spent online instead of pottering around the home – most people are guilty of something. Increasing activity doesn’t necessarily mean joining a gym or taking up running. Building more activity into everyday life is really important and helps to take the pressure off formalised exercise sessions. Anything over the official recommendation is beneficial so look for opportunities around you to increase movement. Do squats while waiting for the kettle to boil, don’t take the car if you can walk, and park a little further from the supermarket entrance.
Aim to sit less
Prolonged periods of sitting are also a big problem, being linked to higher incidence of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Studies show that breaking up sitting time with light activities can have an even greater benefit than a session in the gym, so a device that buzzes after an hour of inactivity can be useful to remind you to get up and move around.
Compete against yourself
Activity trackers can be useful in providing an awareness of the amount of activity undertaken each day, however the estimates of calories burned and distance travelled can be inaccurate. Instead of aiming for an arbitrary target, simply monitor what you currently do and increase your activity by a small percentage each week and you will soon feel the benefits!
Dr Rangan Chatterjee; The Four Pillar Plan