I hate the gym.
Seriously, I loathe it. I think I would suffer through a date with an overactive electric chair rather than take part in a spin class. Pile on top of that the amount of man nipple and grunting that a weights room exposes you to and you’ll understand the indelible stamp that I have on my forehead:
“Will not gym on pain of death”.
But unfortunately there comes a time when you have to take stock of your situation.
By now, because no one ever shuts up about it, we all know too well the dangers of eating too much and exercising too little. However, even in a society as obsessed with slimness as ours, most of us would rather experience a head-splitting migraine than hit the gym. Well, fellow ‘lay abouts’, I am here to offer you some assistance!
Experts (and as experts, they must be right) now say that effective exercise can be incorporated into daily life so easily, even the most exercise-phobic among us can begin to make a difference.
First things first, let’s tackle a couple of home truths. Firstly, being active is better than being lazy. If you think you classify as one of the ‘inactive people’, doing any kind of activity will benefit you. It’s better for your health, your mind, even your figure if you do it properly. Secondly, whoever you are, and whatever you do, there is enough physical time in your week to do something that is even gently more labour intensive than that super tempting ‘Netflix ‘n’ Chill’ weekender.
Some simple maths for you:
There are 168 hours per week.
That means there are 10,080 minutes in a week.
If you work out for twenty minutes, three times in seven days, that works out to be 1.6% of your week.
Still think you don’t have the time?
Take a look at your diary. Depending on your lifestyle, if you’re the fly by night type who parties seven nights a week the chances are you don’t have a job that requires an early start in the morning. Alternatively, if you’re a dedicated 9-5 cog in the corporate wheel, you’ll have some time in your evening.
Getting fitter is not hard, and it doesn’t require a gym. In fact, it barely requires any serious effort, nor power of will.
Here are some tips on what you could be doing better, to galvanize your body.
Always Take the stairs. Wave goodbye to the lift as you sweep past it and upward into the higher echelons of a gently increasing heart rate. You’ll burn more calories, you’ll improve the density of your muscles and you’ll release some of those much needed endorphins that (supposedly) make exercise so great.
Double your walking speed. This may sound silly but if you can walk fast enough to get slightly out of breath you will be taking good exercise. If your daily walk totals at least 20 minutes (better if all in one stint) you will be fulfilling a recognised fitness recommendation - even if you only do this three times a week.
If you drive to work, park further away from the front door. Simple, isn’t it? Even a five minute stomp along the pavement will do great things for you.
Eliminate one "cheat" food from your list. Eating too much of the wrong thing is, obviously, rather bad for you. Getting fitter is as simple as ditching the Haribo.
Meeting friends for drinks somewhere “within walking distance”? Then walk it. Ditch the Uber from door to door, walk to the tube, use the tube, then walk when you get to the other side. It’ll save you money, too, and you can reinvest the difference in another drink. (Told you we were nice, didn’t I?) This is an ideal opportunity for the lay about to fit in a little exercise without noticing you're doing it, because you’re looking forward to the alcohol! For bonus points: As you wait for the bus or the train (and let's face it there is usually plenty of time to kill) practise slow healthy breathing which will keep you calm and restore your nerves:
1. Stand up straight with your feet slightly spaced and weight evenly distributed.
2. Raise your head so your back is as slouch-free as possible.
3. With your arms at your sides, point your hands down to the ground at a very slight angle away from your body so that a very long thin triangle could be drawn in the space from your armpit to the gap between palm and hip.
4. Breathe slowly, from the stomach with air and slowly exhale.
5. Repeat ten times.
Water is better for you thank Diet Coke. Fact. If you need the psychosomatic pleasure of that effervescent hit of a soft drink, go with a kombucha or sparkling water, and add some cordial if you must (much more chic, too).
Black coffee, no sugar. Get your caffeine fix, and commit to it in its purest form.
Do you sit on your backside at work, all day? Don’t. Get up every hour to do something active. Walk the stairs, do bodyweight squats (in private please), or walk during your lunch break. Just move.
If you’re slobbing around in the evening in a baggy jumper and sweat pants, good on you. Life is too short not to embrace your inner couch potato. But, give this a try:
Lie on the floor with, back and legs straight. Lift each leg in turn slowly 20 times. These are stomach toning leg lifts.
Clenching the muscle, raise it 10in from the floor, lower it, let it relax, clench it and raise again.
While you are doing this exercise sit up straight, pulling up through your stomach, supporting your body on either side with your palms flat and pressed to the floor.
This one is a real stomach tightener, too. But, never fear! It can be done while you're flicking through a magazine, or watching the Stranger Things on Netflix.
Lie on the floor, stomach down, magazine in front, supporting yourself on your elbows. Flex your feet - toes down to the floor, so you can raise up on them.
Pull your stomach up and in, keep your back and legs in a straight line.
Don't let your back sag and push yourself up, spreading your weight between your forearms and feet.
Try to hold this position for a count of ten. If this is easy, try 20.
And there you are, my fellow lay abouts - if you can do all of this you have successfully done exercise, avoided the gym, ensured that you’ve managed to get your Netflix in, had a few drinks with friends and have lived to tell the tale. Meanwhile, Vicky on the Finance Desk has spent 20 hours at the gym this week and has pulled her quad, with the prospect of an impending juice fast as her only comfort.