We all know exercise is good for us – it keeps the body fit and healthy, boosts mental health and can help with weight loss.
Yet we’re doing less than ever. A new report has revealed 42% of Brits say they don’t have time for fitness. And it’s estimated we spend a huge £4billion a year on unused gym memberships.
Here we’ve asked fitness experts how you can fit exercise in, even if you’re the busiest person around.
7am: Rise and stretch
As soon as you wake up, take the time to stretch out in bed, says personal trainer Damian Gilder (damian gilderpersonaltrainingstudio.co.uk).
“Stretch your arms over your head and lengthen your body. Take a few deep breaths, then pull your knees tightly into your chest.” This wakes up the body while engaging your muscles.
Next, give your core a quick workout with some reverse sit-ups. Lie flat on your back, bring knees to chest, then stretch your legs out and lower them to tone the abdominals. Repeat 10 times.
7.30am: Try some toothbrush squats
Do the Toothbrush Squat Challenge, suggests dental surgeon Dr Guy Barwell from the Implant Centre in Hove, East Sussex. “During your two-minute brush, aim to do 50 squats – or build up to that if you struggle at first.”
Place your feet hip-width apart, bend your knees and send your hips backwards, as though sitting in a chair. Then push up through your heels and squeeze to work the big muscles in the legs and bottom.
7.35am: Work the stairs
Don’t walk down the stairs, says Damian. Instead, give your legs an additional workout.
“Sit on the top step, put your feet on the second step down, then stand up. Repeat until you’re downstairs. This sitting-to-standing move is great for working the legs,” he says.
8am: Activate your commute
Give your neglected pelvic floor muscles a workout while waiting for the train or bus. Draw your pelvic floor muscles up and squeeze and release 10 to 15 times. Aim to hold each squeeze for 10 seconds.
If you’re driving, play the red light game, advises Vicki Anstey, founder of Barreworks. “Every time you stop at a red light, contract and slowly release your pelvic floor muscles to a count of 10.”
9am: Skip the lift
Researchers at Geneva University Hospital found people who regularly took the stairs at work had lower blood pressure , reduced levels of cholesterol and decreased waist measurements than colleagues who took the lift.
So when you arrive at the office, head for the stairs, and as you walk up take two at a time. This engages the hip and buttock muscles more than taking steps one by one.
10am: The wall workout
Fancy a mid-morning cuppa? Then do some wall push-ups while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, suggests Damian.
“Stand with your hands straight out against the wall, arms shoulder-width apart. Bend at the elbows and lean in, as close to the wall as you can, then push back out. The further from the wall you stand, the harder it will be.”
1pm: Lunch with benefits
Reclaim your lunch break and go for a walk listening to your favourite tunes.
“Music is a great motivator and pace-setter for exercise,” says personal trainer Scott Laidler (scottlaidler.com). Studies show walking at around 100 beats per minute is the optimum pace, so make a playlist that includes Sweet Home Alabama (100 bpm) and work up to Moves Like Jagger (128 bpm).
Alternatively, visit an outdoor gym in your local park. Suitable for people of all ages and fitness levels, there are no membership fees to pay. Visit tgogc.com/gyms to see if there is one near you.
If you’re at home, get gardening. Researchers at Kansas State University found gardening can strengthen limbs, help the cardiovascular system and develop flexibility. No garden? Help out with digging, planting and path-clearing at one of 100 free Green Gyms, run by The Conservation Volunteers.
Visit tcv.org.uk/greengym for more details.
2pm: Walk and talk
There’s no need to slump in a chair when you’re on the phone, says David Wiener, training specialist at fitness app Freeletics (freeletics.com). Instead, walk around the office as
you chat, or try this quadricep-strengthening exercise.
“Press your back flat against a wall and lower your body by bending your knees to a 45- to 90-degree angle. “Hold the position for as long as you can, then stand up.”
3pm: Keep it moving
Swap your desk chair or the sofa for a stability ball, suggests David.
“Sitting on it will help strengthen your abdominal muscles as you balance.”
David also advises making sure you stand up every hour – go to the toilet, make tea, phone your mum or go and say hello to a colleague.
5.30pm: Make sure you stand your ground
Rather than racing for a seat on the train or bus, stand on the commute home, advises Jade Lancashire at Virgin Active.
“It might not increase the number of steps you take, but it gives you the opportunity to work on balance and activate your glute muscles.”
6pm: Try to beat your best score
Waiting for the microwave to ping or the washing machine to finish?
“Challenge yourself to see how many press-ups or squats you can do,” suggests Elliott Upton, personal trainer at Ultimate Performance.
“Keep a note of your score and try to beat it the next time.”
8pm: Ad break activity
Ad break? Get up from the sofa and sit back down without using your hands. This will work your abs.
Repeat this 10 times. Then use the edge of a chair to perform tricep dips to banish bingo wings.
8pm: Do fitness with your friends
Rather than going out for another dinner or drink in the pub, plan a fitness-based outing with friends.
Try an evening at a health club, horse-riding or playing tennis or badminton. Then treat yourself to a post-activity drink.
9pm: Bathtime biceps
Hang a resistance band on the bathroom doorknob and use it to work your arms and shoulders while your bath fills.
10pm: Get set for tomorrow
Set your alarm – then put it out of reach for the night. Once you have got out of bed in the morning to turn it off, you might as well keep going and get up.