Is the credit crunch eating into your gym budget? Subway are running a competition to win a year’s free gym membership – you don’t need to buy a sub to enter, just take a look at this video and read the competition rules.
When I was working in an office full time, with a Subway just round the corner, an occasional sub made a nice healthy treat (I like the veggie sub on wheat bread with as much salad as they can cram in!) Sadly, this competition is only open to US residents, so I can’t enter myself, but hopefully some of The Office Diet’s readers might be able to…
Last week, I gave you a simple good habit to adopt – eating five pieces of fruit and veg a day. How’s it going? If you’re struggling, try making a big pan of vegetable soup, or a vat of vegetable curry, and have it for dinner a couple of times this week. A large bowlful can give you five different vegetable portions in a single hit.
Today’s good habit is getting some exercise every day. Adults should be getting five sessions of 30 minutes moderate exercise each week to meet government recommendations. I find it easiest to sustain habits that are seven days a week – otherwise it’s all too easy to let one skipped day become two, then three…
The most straightforward way to make exercise a daily habit is to have an active commute to work and back. This isn’t possible for everyone (maybe your office is actually the spare bedroom, or perhaps you have to drive for two hours to get to work), but if you can even adjust your routine to walk a bit further to your train station or bus stop, ten – twenty minutes of daily exercise will add up over the course of a week.
Another great habit to get into is taking a walk during your lunch-hour. Most of us should be able to manage that (and if you always grab a sandwich at your desk, you need to read about how to take your full lunch hour).
High intensity exercise (such as jogging or swimming) is better for you than just walking at a moderate pace. How about going straight to the gym on your way home from work – 30-40 minutes exercise then won’t take much time out of your evening. If you go home intending to head out to the gym later, chances are you’ll stay stuck on the sofa. Alternatively, if you’re a morning person, why not go for a quick swim or gym session before work?
Once you’ve built daily exercise into your weekday routine, it’s worth also tackling the weekends. Studies have shown that most of us eat more at the weekend than during the week, and doing some extra exercise can help to counter any over-indulgences. It’s also a great way to have fun! How about joining a sports team or club, trying out a new activity with your family, or simply kicking a ball around in the park?
And if your weekend seems packed with chores, take heart: housework (especially hovering, mopping floors and other more strenuous activities) burns calories too. If you have to make a trip to the shops, cycle or walk instead of driving.
Once you’ve got into the habit of doing at least thirty minutes of exercise a day, it’s hard to break it: I know I get a bit “stir crazy” if I haven’t left the flat for a walk by lunchtime. Good luck with your exercising!
If you’ve been reading The Office Diet for a while, you’ve probably noticed that my advice on exercise is often “fit it into your regular routine”. I advocate things like:
…and so on. The problem here is that when it gets to Christmas and a few days away from the office, your exercise routine is likely to go out of the window.
I know that I’ll need to make an effort to keep up with exercising over Christmas. My regular exercise currently involves:
If you work full time in an office, you may get most of your exercise at around 8am and 5pm. This could present problems when Christmas comes and you end up enjoying long lie-ins and lazy afternoons in from of the television, or when you spend most of the day in the car, travelling for hours to visit some relatives who you’re just glad you can avoid for 364 days of the year…
So how can you keep up with semi-regular exercise when your days are following an unpredictable pattern?
Here are a few things I plan to do:
As well as those “routine” exercises, I’d like to use the Christmas period as an excuse to try out some fun activities too. I’ve not been ice-skating for years, and though I know I’m terrible at it, I also know I’ll have a lot of fun!
Good luck sticking to some semblance of an exercise routine over the Christmas period; remember that doing something is better than doing nothing, and that a brisk half-hour’s walk every day can make all the difference to your health and happiness by the time 2008 rolls into 2009…
(Image above by fiskfisk)
The Times newspaper had an interesting list of Fitness products which you can use at work this week.
The USB stepper sounds intriguing; if you stop stepping, your keyboard and mouse stop working (I suspect that I would use this to avoid both exercise and work, however…)
Some of the gear could be a bit annoying to your colleagues (the wobble-board to stand on, for instance), depending on your office set up. The air desk mentioned, however, really caught my attention as a potentially great way to rig up your laptop alongside exercise equipment – not too office-friendly in many cases, I’d imagine, but could be ideal if you work from home and have a dusty exercise bike tucked away that you rarely use…
Ultimately, though, my view is that these items are little more than fun gizmos; of course, doing something is better than nothing, but for ideal results, you want to be doing exercise that leaves you out of breath and sweating — not a state likely to endear you to your colleagues!
The last fortnight here in London has been cold – it feels like winter’s suddenly hit! Going out for a midday walk no longer seems so attractive (I made it as far as the local library yesterday and decided the freezing wind and looming grey clouds weren’t worth braving any longer).
So, when the weather outside makes you want to stick in the office all through your lunch break (and brave as little as possible of the outside world during your commute home), how can you keep up your activity levels?
One of the big advantages of the gym is that it’s sheltered from the elements! Even if you prefer to jog outside during the warmer months, you might like to get gym membership during the winter.
December is a quiet month in the gym, too, with most people using Christmas preparations as an excuse to slack off on exercise. Join now and miss the January rush!
Winter walks with your partner or family can be a lot of fun, so long as you wrap up warm. It’s miserable shivering your way through a muddy trudge in the drizzling rain: find jumpers, scarves, gloves, hats — and wear an extra pair of socks.
On the plus side, if it’s chilly out, you’ll probably be motivated to walk a bit faster just to keep warm!
Some sports and activities are specifically winter-themed. How about heading to an ice-rink (many cities have temporary outdoor ones during December)? Even Christmas shopping can help you stay active as you pound the pavements, and lugging around bags of presents will help tone those arm muscles.
And, of course, if it snows, there’s lots of excitement to be had: release that inner child and enjoy tobogganing, making snowmen and even having snowball fights…
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Do you feel that you should do more exercise, but hate the thought of spending hours in the gym? Do you want to be more active, but worry that you’ll need to shed those extra pounds first in order to have a chance of keeping up?
If you’re avoiding exercise because you see it as an “all or nothing”, start thinking instead about ways to make your current lifestyle just a bit more active. You don’t need to go to the gym three times a week to see health benefits.
What constitutes the best form of exercise for weight loss? Here is a shocker: anything that gets you moving on a regular, preferably daily, basis.
Although, as Drew points out, weight loss does depend on calories in being less than calories out, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the best sort of exercise is the one that burns the most calories. After all, what do you think will have more benefits for your body in the long run: six months’ worth of daily half-hour walks, or two weeks of daily gym sessions followed by five and a half months where you’ve been completely put off exercising?
Something which “gets you moving on a regular, preferably daily, basis” is something that fits easily around the rest of your life. I’m a big fan of:
It can be depressing to watch the numbers slowly tick round on the calorie-counter at the gym or on your heart rate monitor. When I’ve been sweating away from thirty minutes, it’s galling to be told I’ve only burnt as many calories as there are in a Wispa (one of my favourite types of chocolate bar…)
However, I know that exercise for me isn’t just about the calories I burn – it’s also about the calories I don’t eat. As Drew writes:
It is a well known fact that people eat healthier on days that they are active. By simply being active and consequently feeling good about yourself, you decrease your daily calorie intake through better food choices.
I’ve definitely seen the truth of this in my own attempts to live healthily. When I go to the gym, take a long walk, or commute by bike, I’m much more ready to resist that cookie or slice of cake – because I don’t want to undo all my hard work. And if I’m exercising, I know that I need to eat extra “good” food (protein, unrefined carbs) for sustained energy during my workout, instead of skimping on lunch then wasting calories on chocolate.
Try to find some way of being active every day – even if it’s just a half-hour stroll after dinner, or a quick power walk during your lunch hour. You might find some of these articles useful for further inspiration: