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5 daily actions to get back in shape

Mélissa Globensky and Dino Masson, B.Sc., Kinesiologists
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Set an alert to remind you every hour to exercise for one minute: a few steps or stretches will suffice!

Lack of time is the most common excuse for not exercising as our pace of life continually accelerates. Since the advent of computers and smartphones, we want instant results and expect the same from a workout. It has to be efficient because we think we don't have enough time. What to do? Don't feel you have time to exercise? Break the routine by adding a few new daily actions to get back in shape.

Active transportation

The best way to burn more calories on a daily basis is to opt for active transportation. Walking, biking, using public transport, inline skating… all these options allow you to exercise on the way to work and back. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If using public transport, why not get off one stop before yours to walk to your destination? As well as stimulating your system and working your abdominal muscles, you'll spend a few more minutes outdoors, which increases oxygen to the brain and enhances your mood.

Biking, on the other hand, is a great way to improve your cardiovascular health and tone lower body muscles, like the buttocks. Even if it's a short ride, remind yourself that you're doing more than before.

Active breaks

Everyone has access to a timer, on their computer, cell phone or smart wristband. Set an alarm to go off every hour. Research shows that a 10-minute break greatly improves fitness and performance at work, which in turn helps maintain good health and prevent back aches. Stand up, stretch, get some water, go to the bathroom, go to the other end of the office to pick up your printed documents... they're all a good excuse for a short break.

Of course, not all jobs allow you to take breaks every hour. Don't have time to get up and about? No problem, just work your legs under your desk. For example, do 15 reps of knee extensions and 15 reps of heel lifts. These exercises will tone your legs and buttocks as well as improve blood circulation, which can become problematic in some people who spend their days seated at a desk.

Standing up

According to Statistics Canada, adults spend an average of nearly 10 waking hours a day sedentary (not including sleep). In other words, the average Canadian is physically inactive approximately 17 hours out of 24. We sit at a desk at work, sit in the cafeteria at lunch time, sit in the car or public transit on the way to and from work, sit down to dinner, and then top off the day by sitting in front of the TV for 2 hours. No wonder our legs are swollen at the end of the day and we feel out of breath walking up stairs. We need to stand more often! Try standing behind your chair at meetings and offering your seat to someone else on the metro. Take pride in working your legs—they'll be supporting you the rest of your life. Standing up works your postural muscles (abs and buttocks) without you even noticing it. Isn't that fantastic?!

Midday walk

An excellent way to integrate physical activity into your daily life is to go for a walk on your breaks at work. Relax, go outdoors, run some errands nearby and explore the area. No need to run or walk fast. Slip on your sneakers, take in some fresh air and disconnect from work for a short while. Your performance is sure to improve. In addition to filling up on oxygen, you'll increase energy output and sleep better at night.

A minute of exercise per day

You surely have a minute to spare a day, either first thing in the morning, at work or in the evening. Set your timer and get moving! Choose five different muscle strengthening exercises and do one a day for a full minute.

For example: squats, bench dips, incline push-ups, jumping jacks and front plank. This program will help you slowly tone your body every day with buttock and ab exercises.

In an ideal world, employers would allow staff to set aside some time for physical activity in order to maintain good health. Did you know that, according to Health Canada, physically active employees are on average 12% more productive than sedentary employees? Imagine, just a few minutes of exercise a day can significantly increase both your performance at work and your health. Start taking better care of your health today by staying active.

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