It's no secret that exercising regularly is crucial to one's physical health and can yield positive benefits such as reduction of stress, increased energy and self-confidence. It's also no secret that trying to maintain a regular exercise routine is especially difficult during a major life transition, such as the move from military to civilian life.
For the transitioning veteran, it's increasingly important to stay active after the military (as outlined in this previous post), but it can also be difficult to find the time to dedicate towards a healthy lifestyle.
The Center for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. That breaks down into five sessions of 30 minute workouts. Read on for some simple ways to fit in exercise, in small and manageable bursts.
1. Choose the Stairs Over the Elevator
If you're physically able, opting for the stairs instead of the elevator can be a great way to sneak in some quick cardio. It may not seem like much, but it can help to improve your circulation throughout the day, and can elevate your heart rate to help improve your metabolism.
According to Canadian Living, a 160-pound person can burn 50 calories by climbing stairs for four minutes. Multiply four minutes of stairs by 5 week days, and you could potentially burn over 12,000 calories in a year, just by making one simple switch.
2. Ditch the Shopping Cart
There are plenty of ways to incorporate a few muscle-building exercises during everyday activities, no gym membership necessary.
When grocery shopping, if possible, go without the shopping cart. You can either use a store-supplied basket to carry your purchases, or bring your own reusable bags. Carrying two heavy bags of groceries can be a great workout for your arms, and you can do some subtle arm repetitions with the bags on your way out of the store.
Another tip is to park your car farther away from the store's entrance. This ensures that you will get some extra steps in, and also have slightly farther to carry your bags to, adding in a little more time for calorie burning.
3. Take Walking Breaks
It's been proven that sitting for hours at a time is bad for one's health. Taking a five minute break every hour or so can help to reduce some of your risk for developing health problems related to a sedentary lifestyle.
Weight Watchers recommends setting a timer on your computer or phone to remind you to get up and walk around for a couple of minutes every hour. Standing up and stretching your legs may help to improve productivity by getting your blood flowing and improving circulation.
If you're having trouble taking walking breaks, try standing up while taking phone calls, and pacing around the office. An article in Better Homes and Gardens states that you burn more calories while standing than sitting, and are able to burn even more with pacing.
4. Exercising while Relaxing
It's easy to incorporate in basic exercises while you catch up on some of your favorite shows. If it's a particularly drama-packed episode and you don't want to miss a moment, take advantage of commercial breaks. Use the five-minute break to do some simple sit-ups or crunches on the ground. It's also convenient to keep some free-weights by the couch and do some basic bicep curls and strengthening exercises.
5. Keep Hydrated
This Greatist article on unexpected ways to exercise, recommends drinking a lot of water during the day, not only to help hydrate and boost your metabolism, but so that you will have to get up more often to walk to the bathroom. The article suggests picking a bathroom on a different floor, to grab some extra time on the stairs. Water bottles are inexpensive and easy to stash in a briefcase or purse, and can also double as free weights in a pinch.
There are so many ways to take advantage of exercise opportunities, and every minute counts, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. Making a few simple changes to your routine will set the stage to leading a more healthy and beneficial lifestyle.