The "Non-Workout" Workout
Life is full of ups and downs, and none of us are exempt. You know the story. You decide you’re tired of your increasingly nondescript shape. You miss how fit you used to be. You decide to really get after it this time, and you won’t fall off the wagon like so many times before. A few weeks in, you’re looking and feeling great, but eventually, life gives you a swift kick in the behind and you have to sacrifice workouts for something else. Before you know it, you’ve spiraled back into the pits of unhealthy living, and you have to start all over again. The tips here are for that bottom self. We all go through it, but if you can manage even one of these four ideas, you’ll be able to back bounce to a cycle of excellence with so much less struggle.
Add a Little Music
This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to improve your health. Everyone has chores around the house. Laundry, cleaning, whatever. Have you ever noticed that there are times when you work up a good sweat and other times when it barely gets your blood flowing? The difference is in vigor. If you really delve into scrubbing the sink or getting every last scrap or item off of the floor, you can get your heart rate up nicely. If you commit to doing your weekly chores with some good jams that get you moving, you’ll involuntarily attack your chores with more gusto. This alone isn’t enough to achieve peak fitness, but it’ll definitely burn a few extra calories every week and postpone the worst levels of atrophy.
On a good day, this suggestion might elicit a “hell yeah!” from you. Any other day the look on your face is probably more telling than any disdain that crosses your lips. Toughen up. Volunteering is a surefire way to work more fitness into your life. You can walk dogs, help build houses or even commit to helping friends with projects you’d rather they did themselves. The real trick here is that you agree to do it when you don’t really have to think about how much you’re going to resent it later. Then you’re stuck and can’t back out. The morning of, you’ll get up begrudgingly and really hate the more chipper version of yourself who agreed to this nonsense, but by the end of the day you’re always glad you did. Volunteer more liberally and you’ll feel better about yourself in a few ways.
The Little Things
There are a thousand subtle things you can change about your daily life that will help you fitness. Don’t believe us? Test these ideas with a step tracker. You don’t need to buy a new watch; your phone app is fine.
- Park farther away. We’re not talking about the back row. Park at the store next door and walk over. It adds up quickly, but it only takes about as much time as looking for a prime spot anyways.
- Skip the drive-through. For this to really work you have to commit. No drive-throughs. Ever.
- Take the stairs. If you live or work on a sky rise, you might have to build up to this, or just plan a specific stair day. Otherwise, stairs over escalators and short elevator rides.
Just those three practices can have a transformative impact on your lifestyle. Even if you don’t hit the gym, join a club or take up a sport, you’ll find your worst and most unfit days aren’t nearly as bad.
We’re focused on periods where you lack conviction. Let’s be realists. When you’re off your game, you aren’t going to keep up with your intense regimens. Instead, acknowledge the situation and try to work in soft workouts. A simple morning or evening stroll a couple of nights a week are enough to keep your metabolism from dropping off a cliff. You can do a couple of sets of sit ups or crunches throughout the day. And, even at your worst, you can convince yourself to do a TV routine. A treadmill or bike is the best, but jumping jacks, running in place or even getting up, walking a lap around the living room and sitting back down at every commercial break will do at least some good.
You aren’t paid to stay fit. There will be lapses in motivation and simple free time. None of these tricks will sculpt you into a Greek God, but they keep your worst marginally better. Then, when you do cycle back into a good fitness stretch, it won’t be so hard in the beginning.