19 February 2019

Simple tips for getting more exercise (without working out!)

older woman walking a dog in a field

When we get older and start slowing down, it’s important that we keep our bodies moving.

Exercise has been proven to reduce stress, risk of heart attack, improve mental wellbeing and more. But let’s face it, the idea of working out can be daunting and quite often we don’t have the time to dedicate to it.

We asked a range of lifestyle bloggers their top tips for sneaking more exercise into their daily lives.

Make it social

older friends walking while talking

Erin from Yorkshire Tots to Teens recommends doing something active when meeting up with friends and family.

“It's easier to be active if you make it fun and a part of your social routine! Rather than meeting up with my friends at a café, we meet up and walk there, get our coffee to take away and walk back. We've picked a café about a two miles away, so we get plenty of fresh air and exercise while we chat. We each have our own reusable cup which makes it special and means we also get a nice discount from the cafe for bringing our own!”

Take the long way

When you can, try to minimise how often you use public transport or your car, says Victoria from Healthy Vix. “Don’t get off the bus at the stop closest to your home, but instead get off the bus a few stops before your usual stop to bump up your step count for the day. If you’re going to the local shops then leave the car at home and enjoy the fresh air and walk there.”

If you need to take the car to the supermarket, Stephen from How Many Miles recommends parking at the far end of the car park. “Try to park the car slightly further back in the car park. Not only does it lead to more steps, but it reduces the stress of trying to find the closest space next to the shops.”

As well as when you’re out and about, Victoria suggests trying this way of thinking when you’re at home too. Unless you rely on a stair lift, Victoria says to head upstairs for any bathroom breaks. “Instead of using the downstairs toilet at home, choose to use the upstairs toilet to not only increase your steps but to also gain the benefits of stair climbing too!”

Invest in a fitness watch

older person touching fitness watch

When exercising, it can be hard to know exactly how much you are benefitting from the amount of effort you are putting in. For this reason, Jo from Tea & Cake for the Soul recommends getting a fitness watch. “I got mine for under £20 from Amazon. You'll be surprised at how much exercise you do just with normal housework and gardening! On days where you haven't done much activity, your stats are sure to encourage you to go out for a walk.

“If you’d rather not go out, I also find there are so many quick 5 to 10-minute exercise videos on YouTube for all abilities, from gentle stretches to Zumba. They are so quick to do it makes them highly achievable and can make a big difference to your stats.”

Stacey from Stacey In The Sticks also agrees that fitness trackers are great for improving your motivation. “Since getting my Fitbit last Christmas, I've been taking the dog out for much longer walks than before. I'm currently trying to build my distance up and it's a bonus that I can track it in the Fitbit app alongside my friends’ and family’s stats too and have weekly competitions to try to beat their scores!”

Do it alongside other daily tasks

Exercise doesn’t have to be a set, independent part of your day, says Donna from Little Lily Pad. In fact, it can be something you combine with a small, routine task such as boiling the kettle. “We all struggle to find time to get exercise into our day but if you actually make it part of something you do every day, it becomes a habit. I tend to do at least 10 squats every time I go to the toilet. You are in an enclosed space so no need to worry about being judged or watched and it is a little way to do something that can actually make a big difference!”

If squatting may be too strenuous for you, check out these light daily stretches which you can do almost anywhere.

Do some jobs around the house

As well as being practical, doing some jobs around the house can be a great way to get moving. Why not get out into the garden and try your hand at gardening? A popular hobby amongst older people, the average person can burn up to 300 calories an hour pulling weeds, planting flowers and maintaining their gardens.

If you don’t have much of a green thumb, you could try cooking up a storm in the kitchen. Although it may not sound like it, all that mixing and beating of ingredients burns roughly 200 calories an hour. All the more reason to whip up something tasty!

Does your house need a little TLC? Doing a few jobs is a great way to squeeze in more exercise all the while sprucing up your home. According to BT, mowing the lawn for an hour can burn up to 276 calories, sweeping for half an hour can burn up to 135 calories and painting a room for an hour can burn up to 306 calories!

However you decide to fit more exercise into your day, the most important part is making it a habit. Whether that’s going for a walk in the morning to get some food provisions or doing some work around the house, finding a way to stick at it is key to for maintaining a healthy and happy life.