Be Active All Day Long
Keep your bones and muscles in top shape with these simple and easy exercise tips. Adding these activities to your daily routine is easier than you might think and the benefits are huge.
During the night your bones and muscles have time to recover from the previous day’s exertions. Without the effects of gravity on your spine overnight you may be up to half-an-inch taller in the morning than the previous evening. However, the lack of activity means your muscles may feel stiff in the morning.
Have a warm shower, relax your muscles and take 5 minutes to limber up and stretch. This will help to wake up your muscles and joints and prepare them for the day ahead.
A cup of tea or coffee first thing in the morning won’t do you any harm, but too much caffeine can interfere with your uptake of bone and muscle-building nutrients such as calcium, iron and zinc. Try green tea instead: it contains less caffeine and has anti-inflammatory properties that may help to soothe rheumatic conditions.
A nutritious breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and makes you less likely to snack on unhealthy food later in the morning. A pot of yoghurt or a bowl of muesli or porridge with milk is a good way to get lots of calcium for your bones.
Now you are ready for the day ahead. Your body needs to stay active to stay healthy – your muscles have evolved to work hard through the day, providing the mechanical power to move your bones. To keep your body in top condition, try to make as much use of your bones and muscles as possible.
Get Off Early
Jump off the bus or the train a couple of stops early or park your car a little distance from your destination. You’ll burn around 60 extra calories for every 10 minutes further that you walk.
Stay standing up when you use the bus or train. Hold onto the grab rail for support but use the muscles in your trunk and legs to roll with the motion – you’ll improve your balance and work your core stabilizing muscles.
Take the Stairs
Walking up stairs rather than taking an escalator provides an aerobic workout similar to the step machine in the gym and strengthens the muscles in your legs and buttocks.
Too much time spent sitting at a desk can store up problems for your back. Poor posture and lack of mobility places a lot of pressure on your muscles and joints, increasing your chance of back pain.
Try to get up and stretch your legs every 15 minutes or so to give your muscles and joints a chance to change position. Crumple up wastepaper before throwing it into the bin; clenching helps to ward off carpal tunnel syndrome.
Tap your toes or fingers, wriggle in your seat or tense your muscles while you’re working. Research suggests that people who make lots of small fidgeting movements in everyday tasks burn a lot more calories – in one study the difference added up to as much as 350 calories a day.
Keep a bowl of fruit or some dried fruit and nuts on your desk. Fruit and nuts contain essential vitamins and minerals for bones and muscles and will help to keep your blood-sugar levels stable through the day, making you less likely to crave high-fat or salty snacks.
Regular activity – whether a trip to the gym or a brisk lunch-time walk – will keep your muscles and bones in peak condition and increase your chances of staying fit and active as you grow older. Doctors recommend at least 45 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise three times a week – and there are plenty of easy ways to stay active the rest of the time.
Do the Gardening
Even a couple of hours spent weeding or digging can burn around 1000 calories. Bend your knees, not your waist – this will tone your muscles and help prevent back strain.
Pace up and down the platform when you’re waiting for your train to arrive. If you’re waiting for a bus, try walking to the next stop. If it means that you need to run for your bus, even better!
Give your body a chance to relax before you go to bed – a warm bath will help to soothe your muscles and joints. Avoid simply collapsing in a sofa or armchair to watch television – lack of support and poor sitting posture can place stress on your back and spine.
Sit and Bounce
Instead of slumping in front of the TV, try sitting on an exercise ball – your posture will improve and you’ll work your core stabilizing muscles.
Hide the Remote
Getting up to change the channel on your TV manually just 10 times an evening will burn around 3,500 calories over the course of the year – enough to lose about a half a kilo of body fat.
Watch a good comedy or call a friend who knows how to make you laugh. Laughter releases tension, reduces stress and works your stomach muscles. Frequently laughing out loud over a 15-minute period can burn up to 40 calories.