Personal Exercise Programme

It is not necessary to join a gym to exercise. Exercising at home is easy and inexpensive; it can be done at a moment’s notice and is easily rescheduled to fit in with other activities.

Creating a personal exercise programme and making exercise at home a part of your daily routine can be an effective means of increasing your physical activity level, thereby enhancing current health and wellbeing and helping to safeguard future health.

One of the easiest ways of becoming fitter is simply to incorporate more activity into everyday life – walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift, for example. Alternatively, some people enjoy devising a home-exercise routine of exercises to improve flexibility and aerobic and muscular fitness.

INCREASING PHYSICAL ACTIVITY

The way you decide to increase your level of physical fitness depends on your daily routine, how much time you have and whether you enjoy formal exercise. Small changes can make everyday activities more physically demanding, and stair-climbing and walking can be easily integrated into your daily routine. Initially, you may find it tiring to be more active, and the prospect of exercising in the evening after a hard day’s work may not be appealing. However, if you have a sedentary job, you may find exercising in the evening refreshing rather than tiring. Ultimately, the more energy you burn, the more energy you will have.

Everyday activities

If you are at home during the day, you can try to make everyday tasks more physically demanding, perhaps by doing them more briskly, or adding some movement. For example, when carrying bags of shopping, raise and lower them a few times to work the arms; when sweeping the floor, hold in the abdominal muscles, avoid hunching the shoulders and work at a quicker pace than usual to exercise the muscles in the arms and the front and sides of the abdomen; when bending down to take an item from a low cupboard, perform a few squats to exercise the legs and buttocks.

When watching the television or listening to music after a day’s work, it is easy to do a few floor exercises and some stretching at the same time. One study found that watching television reduced the metabolic rate and contributed to weight gain, principally because people remain in the same seated position while doing it. Try to change position from time to time, and get up as much as possible – avoid using the remote control to change channels.

For those who do not want to do formal exercise, gardening is a popular and relaxing pastime that keeps you moving, bending and stretching; it has the added benefit of improving the environment. Home decorating is another practical option that keeps you active and improves your surroundings.

Stair-climbing

An effective way for busy people to incorporate more activity into their daily routine is to climb more stairs. If you live in an upstairs flat, work in an office on the first floor or higher, or take an underground train to work, you can burn extra calories by using the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. Stair-climbing is an intense form of aerobic activity, so it requires a gentle start. Once you can go up and down with ease, you can start taking the stairs two at a time.

Walking

Incorporating a brisk 10-20 minute walk into a routine is a good way to take aerobic exercise. Walking is a safe and natural physiological movement that requires no special clothing, apart from comfortable shoes. It can be done almost any-where and can be fitted into shopping trips, taking the children to school or travelling to and from work (by getting off the bus or train a couple of stops early).

Walking is a suitable form of exercise at any age and is perfect for newcomers to exercise and older people. Regular brisk walking provides all the fitness benefits of higher intensity activity such as jogging or aerobics, without the risk of injury: it burns fat, prevents heart disease, improves posture, reduces stress and improves mood. To enhance the fitness benefits, try walking faster for longer, and, if possible, walk uphill. Walking can also provide time for reflective thought and problem-solving.