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How to: Meet your daily exercise quota

August 2011

Not everyone loves team sports. We don't all get a thrill out of going to the gym or for a run, and let's face it – life is busy. Work, family and a myriad of other commitments can get in the way of getting the recommended amount of daily exercise.

A study published in the British Journal of Sport Medicine likens watching TV to smoking, and claims that every hour spent watching television shortens your life by a little over 20 minutes – which is on par with smoking a cigarette.

That is a little bit scary!

This ‘how to' is not about telling you to go to the gym or never watch TV: we're thinking along the lines of ways to fit in 30 minutes of vigorous or 60 minutes of moderate exercise every day.

1. The obvious one is active transport, so using your journey to and from a location to get your daily exercise dose.  A lot of people choose to walk and cycle to and from work, or to the shops, or to take the kids to school. People often underestimate how good walking is for you – bear in mind that walking for 5km burns pretty much the same calories as running for 5km.

2. Incidental exercise – such as taking the stairs rather than the lift – is great for your overall health but what's better is if you can slot in some more intense exercises into your daily routine. Do squats while you are stationary, so perhaps when you are cleaning your teeth! Or you could wear leg weights while you are cooking dinner. How about creating a floor routine of sit-ups and leg exercises, then you can watch your favourite TV show without the fear that you are loosing 20 minutes off your life expectancy!

3. Home gym equipment has also become a lot more affordable. So whether it's the latest trend, like the ab circle pro, or just going for some good old-fashioned dumbbells, if you've got the motivation you can use your time when watching TV to get your daily exercise.

4. You could possibly find time to squeeze in a quick exercise DVD. There are some great ones out there, go for one that's broken down into short workouts – perfect to fit into your day! Then it's easy (or easier) to work into your routine. While we're on the topic of technology, gamers can use their beloved console to get fit through games like Wii Fit.

5. One I love is taking low intensity exercise activities, like gardening and cleaning, and making them high impact cardio workouts. For me, the music makes all the difference to the amount of effort I put in. Put on something inspirational or just something fun that gets you hyper, and pick up the mop or the trowel and really move! You'll get more done in 30 minutes than usual, so it's a win-win.

6. Take a lunch break and use the time to exercise. You could arrange for a yoga instructor or a dance instructor to run sessions at your workplace. A lot of fitness instructors will run sessions if you get enough people to sign-up. Alternatively, just go for a jog or walk with friends. Doing a group activity or exercising with other people is a great way to keep motivated.

There is all the usual stuff too – like the gym and classes and sports and hobbies – but not everyone can keep motivated or work these forms of exercise into their daily routine. I guess the main thing is looking at your lifestyle and figuring out what works for you. You can set up rules like, I can only meet Jane for dinner if I walk to the restaurant ... but at the end of the day it all comes down to willpower and motivation.

Despite this all seeming so obvious I hope it's sparked some kind of ‘ah ha!' moment and inspires at least one person to listen to Snap! whilst cleaning their bath.

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